STATE CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Town clerk faced with 43 felony charges
A town clerk-and-treasurer in northeast Wisconsin is facing 43 felony charges in a theft-and-forgery case. 43-year-old Melissa Bloechl of the town of Elcho is free on a signature bond, and the status of her case will be reviewed on September 11th in Langlade County Circuit Court. According to reports, another town officer notified sheriff’s deputies – and a local financial institution raised questions after money was allegedly withdrawn from town accounts over several years. One check was said to be over 52-thousand-dollars, and another was around 40-thousand. Bloechl is charged with one count of theft, two counts of forgery, and 40 counts of misconduct in office.
Two teenaged boys are under arrest for the failed robbery of a 96-year-old woman and her neighborhood corner grocery store in Marshfield. Police arrested a 17-year-old Arpin boy and a 13-year-old Marshfield boy on Wednesday for the attempted July 15th heist at Wolf’s Grocery. Officials said the younger boy took out a pocket knife and demanded money from store owner Margie Wolf. She said the boy could have all the Tootsie Rolls he wanted, but no cash. That stance made the robbery attempt a national news story. The 17-year-old faces a possible charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Police said the teen allegedly encouraged the 13-year-old to commit the robbery. The teen was referred to juvenile authorities. Wolf tells Marshfield News-Herald Media that if the 13-year-old gets the right kind of help, he probably won’t commit such a crime again. She said she was not going to report the incident to police – but she did so after thinking that the younger boy might have tried to rob an elderly person’s home. For decades, Wolf’s Grocery has been known for serving up pop-and-candy to youngsters at nearby Madison Elementary School.
The Waushara County sheriff said a man who died during a police standoff most likely shot himself in a house where he was taking refuge. An autopsy had been scheduled yesterday for 33-year-old Timothy Pawlacyk of rural Red-granite. He was found dead in the basement of a home whose residents were away on vacation. Two deputies are on administrative leave, while an investigation continues. Sheriff David Peterson said it all started Wednesday afternoon, when Pawlacyk robbed a Wautoma pharmacy at gunpoint, and got away with the prescription painkiller Oxycontin. Officers later found the suspect’s vehicle. Peterson said it struck a squad car before an officer fired a shot to try and stop the suspect. That didn’t work. Pawlacyk later got stuck at a road construction site, where more gunshots were exchanged – and the suspect ran off to the nearby house where the standoff took place. It ended when a SWAT team from Oshkosh entered the home late Wednesday night, and found Pawlacyk dead. Neighbors who were evacuated were allowed to return home early yesterday morning.
A Milwaukee judge has ordered the head of a private school to pay back 300-thousand tax dollars he received to teach low-income kids under the state’s voucher program. The only problem is that no one seems to know where 41-year-old Corey Daniels is. Process servers have tried for months to find Daniels, and give him a summons outlining the state’s complaint against him. He ran the Milwaukee Institute of Academic Achievement in the 2011-and-’12 school year when reports surfaced about students being in danger. The state Department of Public Instruction later terminated the institute’s participation in the choice program. The D-P-I said the school submitted false documents to the state, was never eligible to get the tax money it received. Also, the D-P-I has barred Daniels from operating another voucher school. When the choice program was expanded this year, the law only allowed previously-existing private schools to participate. The change was meant to discourage people from quickly putting together a private school in order to accept the public voucher money.
The owner of automotive businesses in Rhinelander is scheduled to be sentenced December fourth, after he struck a plea deal in a federal fraud case. 43-year-old John Henricks-the-Third has pleaded guilty in Federal Court in Madison to a single charge of mail fraud. Two other mail fraud charges were dropped, along with a federal identity theft count and four similar state charges that were pending in Oneida County. The charges involved insurance claims that Henricks made with his former Custom Collision auto body repair business. Henricks, who also owns towing businesses in the Rhinelander area, was accused of defrauding thousands-of-dollars from insurance firms, and stealing employees’ identity to commit the crimes.
A Plymouth woman is due back in court September 12th, after being accused of causing a traffic death near Fond du Lac. Bond was set yesterday at 25-thousand dollars for 51-year-old Laurie Garcia. She’s charged with negligent homicide in a crash Wednesday morning on Highway 23 east of Fond du Lac. 53-year-old Kathleen Fee of Fond du Lac was killed. Authorities said Garcia was on her way to work when was passing a line of cars. An oncoming car driven by Fee had swerved to avoid missing Garcia, when it veered over a center line and hit a third vehicle head-on. The third driver suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Fond du Lac County sheriff’s deputies said they caught up with Garcia west of Fond du Lac and arrested her. At her next court appearance, a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order a trial.
A former village clerk-and-treasurer in Sheboygan County was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday – but he’ll stay free-on-bond until an appeal is completed. Former Oostburg official Kim Simmelink was convicted of stealing over 341-thousand-dollars in village funds. His appeal will determine whether the statute-of-limitations expired on 26 embezzlement charges filed against the 56-year-old Simmelink. Besides the prison term, Circuit Judge Terence Bourke ordered seven years of extended supervision. He also told Simmelink to pay back the full 341-thousand he stole from the village, plus an additional 34-thousand. He was also convicted of embezzlement in 2009. The current charges were filed after an audit revealed that Simmelink stole a lot more money than was first thought. Simmelink apologized yesterday, and said he’s been changing to be a more positive presence in the Oostburg community.
Bond is set at 100-thousand-dollars for a Milwaukee man charged with killing a newly-engaged woman in a hit-and-run traffic crash. 48-year-old Edwood Hastings made his first court appearance yesterday on a felony count of fatal hit-and-run. He’s due back in court August 26th, where a commissioner will determine if there’s enough evidence to put Hastings on trial. Prosecutors said Hastings’ vehicle struck 32-year-old Andrea Barringer while she was trying to get across a busy Farwell Avenue on Milwaukee’s east side last Sunday night. Hastings claimed that Barringer and two of her friends were darting between cars, and he tried to avoid hitting her but couldn’t. Authorities said Barringer was in a legal crosswalk at the time she was hit. She became engaged last Friday.