WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: AG Van Hollen files suit against veterans charity
WAUKESHA - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced an action today to be filed in Waukesha County against Double Up Incorporated, a purported charity servicing veterans.
According to the complaint, the company sold coupon books that offered discounts to area businesses in Waukesha and Milwaukee counties. The proceeds of the sale of the books were supposed to benefit Wisconsin disabled veterans and veteran outreach programs, and buyers were also told that a portion of every sale would go to a charity selected by the purchaser. The AG says thousands of coupon books were sold but no money was ever donated to area veterans groups. The complaint also alleges that to encourage purchases, Double Up offered three donated trips to Mexico as prizes, but then awarded those trips to friends of one of the owners of Douple Up, Brian Michaud, rather than to randomly selected purchasers. The complaint alleges multiple statutes were violated including those governing charity solicitation, fraudulent representation and deceptive trade practices. The complaint seeks restitution for consumers who purchased coupon books, as well as forfeitures for multiple violations of consumer laws.The Department of Justice encourages military servicemen and women, families and friends to visit www.military.ncpw.gov for free resources, tip sheets and blog posts from national consumer protection experts.
A Janesville woman involved in a minor accident Monday was later charged with operating while intoxicated. Rock County Sheriff’s officials say 30-year-old Cassy Schyvinck-Samret had six young children in her car at the time. The Sheriff's office says the kids ranged in age from three to eight. Four of the kids were not hers and their parents were called to come pick them up. Schyvinck-Samret was given field sobriety tests and then issued multiple citations.
An Appleton man is accused of trying to abduct a bartender last week by putting a plastic bag over the woman's head as she walked to her car after work. Forty-five-year-old Dennis Mitchell is facing a charge of attempted abduction for the incident involving the bartender at the Eager Beaver bar. Court records show that night has been “Lingerie Night” at the bar, and Mitchell was asked in the past to stop taking pictures of the bartenders. Records say there was a receipt for Walmart, in the bag, and investigators were able to get surveillance video of the suspect from the store. Mitchell is also charged with soliciting prostitution for an incident in May near the bar. He’s accused of offering a woman money to have sexual contact with him.
Governor Scott Walker says in an interview with the Washington Post Monday that one of the favorite signs he saw when kicking off his campaign in April was hand made and said "three peat" on it. That's in reference to Walker winning his first term in 2010 and then two years later surviving the recall election. Walker, a Republican, was the first governor in U.S. history to win a recall election and now looks to win a third time in four years with the re-election bid. The article says Walker's economic record should help him win his third term, as he turned around a nearly four billion dollar deficit into a one billion dollar surplus. It also cites Walker's tax cuts, two-year tuition freeze at the University of Wisconsin and collective-bargaining reforms he enacted. But the article also notes Walker will be targeted along with other Republican governors nationwide in this year's election.
A Wisconsin woman who found out first hand the impact of smoking while pregnant is shown in a new ad aimed at helping others to quit. Amanda Brenden of Eau Claire was 24 years old, a smoker and in college when she gave birth to a baby girl who was premature and weighed only three pounds. She hopes her story will serve as a lesson to other moms. Brenden says, "I think that women don’t think that something bad is going to happen to them, and I wanted to share my story to let pregnant women know that it can happen to you.” Brenden spokes out during an event Monday at the Capitol in Madison. She admitted that she smoked as way of dealing with stress, so it was hard to give up the cigarettes when dealing with the added stress of pregnancy. Brenden's daughter now suffers from asthma. Research from UW-Milwaukee finds 13 percent of pregnant women in Wisconsin smoke, compared to a national average of 10 percent.
A Wisconsin man who threatened an eastern Iowa woman with a gun after she refused to help him in commit food stamp fraud will spend just under 5 years in federal prison. Court records show 23-year-old Billy Evans of Milwaukee entered a gas station in Dubuque, Iowa on January 16 of this year. He tried to talk the gas station attendant into using his food stamp card to purchase items and get some cash. The clerk refused, and surveillance video shows Evans lifted up his jacket to show the female clerk a gun in his waistband. The woman refused to take part and later called police after Evans confronted her when she left the store. The cops chased Evans down and found a loaded gun he had ditched in the chase.Evans had previously been convicted in Wisconsin for operating a vehicle without consent and attempted armed robbery. He pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition as a felon and was sentenced to 57 months in federal prison. There is not parole in the federal system and he will also have to serve a 3 years probation when released.
A preliminary hearing in Rock County Monday revealed some of the details of the death of Britney Cross of Edgerton. Twenty-eight-year-old Clayton Courtney, Cross' boyfriend, is charged with beating her to death. A Janesville police detective testified the autopsy showed evidence of a violent struggle, and he also talked about DNA and mud evidence found at the scene that linked Courtney to the crime. A Rock County Court Commissioner determined there is enough evidence against Courtney to try him on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide. His arraignment is set for August 6th, and he remains in jail on a $500,000 cash bond.
A new survey finds drivers in Wisconsin are warming up to the idea of toll roads that would help pay for highway projects. The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee released the survey that shows one in three residents believe toll roads are the best way to raise the funds to pay for road work. That’s a major jump in the number of supporters for toll roads. Over 20 percent of people surveyed say the state’s best option is to increase taxes and user fees to help funding. Just eight percent say the state should borrow money to pay for Department of Transportation projects. The transportation fund has been shrinking, and forecasts call for more than a 600 million dollar deficit in a few short years. License plate fees and fuel taxes are not keeping up with the cost of maintaining Wisconsin’s highways.
Motorists driving in the Three Lakes area may be alarmed by some small, unusual fires this week. Leah Van Zile from Wisconsin Public Service says you shouldn’t worry. WPS crews are purging about 22 miles of high pressure natural gas pipelines to make some modifications and do some maintenance.Van Zile says the gas will be burned, or flared off at the disconnection points, which is a controlled burn. There will also be workers at the regulator station near Highway 70 and County Highway O east of St. Germain as workers inject nitrogen and air to purge the lines. The work is expected to take much of this week. Next week, similar work will be done in the Clear Lake, Woodruff, and St. Germain areas. WPS officials say people at Don Burnside Park in Three Lakes may smell gas odors and see occasional flames about five feet high as part of this project.
Monday’s announcement to lift the state’s moratorium on a special tax credit program is good news for many communities including Wausau and Stevens Point. Governor Scott Walker said Monday the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will lift the moratorium on the Historic Preservation Tax Credit. The moratorium was announced last month when WEDC was flooded with applications for the tax credit as municipalities work to improve or redevelop historic properties. Local development officials are pleased with the reinstatement of the program. Stevens Point Community Development Director Michael Ostrowski says they currently have no projects seeking those funds, but believes this is a great tool for revitalizing older structures. Ostrowski says recent work to older business sites in Stevens Point was done under a similar program. Megan Lawrence is Wausau’s Economic Development Manager. She says the reinstatement of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit is good news for two projects already being considered for redevelopment, the former Savo Supply site and the Wausau Club. WEDC says it is lifting the moratorium because of the rigorous application and approval process in place. That means the available money will be sought by many applicants in a competitive process. There will also be limits to what buildings will qualify.
A report says a western Wisconsin police officer who was placed on administrative leave had been arrested twice last week. WQOW reports New Richmond Police Officer Tony Milliron was was arrested Thursday night for an alleged domestic abuse incident involving his wife. She told police he struck her about six times on the head and arm, and placed his hands around her neck during an argument in his truck. Officials say she had visible injuries, but did not seek medical attention. Police say Milliron denied hitting her, but admitted grabbing her. Milliron posted bond and was released from jail, with orders not to have any contact with his wife or their home. Police say he violated that rule and went to the home when he was released, so he was arrested again. He is due in court on both cases next month.
Two Wisconsin meat and poultry processors are doing more business, thanks to a recently-revised federal law which lets them sell food out-of-state. Twin Cities Pack of Clinton in Rock County recently joined Wyttenbach Meats of Prairie du Sac to become certified for interstate product shipping. Clinton is just a few miles north of the Wisconsin-Illinois line. Twin Cities' owner Brian Lutzow tells the Janesville Gazette it took about a year for his application to get processed. The cooperative shipping program was first introduced in the 2008 Farm Bill, and Lutzow said it took six years to implement it. Lutzow says it's an important change for him -- because he has a wide variety of customers that include 4-H clubs and organic farmers with smaller herds. He also said he has already seen his business grow because he can ship out of state.
A Madison group has sold a company which makes a device that helps truck drivers eliminate idling. Phillips-and-Temro Industries of suburban Minneapolis has purchased Idle Free Systems of Madison. Terms were not disclosed. Former truck driver Robert Jordan started Idle-Free eleven years ago. It sells a power unit that takes electricity produced while a truck is moving, and stores it in batteries to use later. It seeks to cut down on semi-trucks idling their vehicles for hours at times. Experts say idling wastes around 20-million barrels of diesel fuel each year. The Idle-Free product was so popular, that the firm doubled the size of a plant in Watertown to around ten-thousand square feet a couple of years ago.
U.S. House of Representatives Budget Chairman Paul Ryan has raised the most campaign money he's ever brought in for a three-month period. Congressional candidates do not have to report their fund-raising totals until tomorrow. Ryan, the Republicans' 2012 vice presidential nominee from Janesville, took in $1.6 million dollars in the second quarter of this year. That's a new record for Ryan's 16 years in Congress. He set his old record in the first quarter of this year, when he took in one-point-four million. Ryan had $3.8 million dollars in his war chest as of July first, down slightly from the four-million dollars he had on April first. Ryan will face one of two Democrats squaring off in the August 12th primary -- Rob Zerban or Amar Kaleka. Zerban had only raised $124,000 in the previous quarter, and Kaleka $37,000 Zerban's camp says Ryan will have a lot more money to tell his story -- but it's a story that's getting "less and less support." Ryan's campaign said his large donations show that they support what he's doing, and how he's holding the Obama administration accountable.
A teenager killed in a Waupaca County traffic crash was publicly identified yesterday as 18-year-old Tyler Court of New London. Sheriff's deputies said Court was struck by a vehicle around 2:30 Saturday morning in the town of Lebanon. Rescuers found him unresponsive, and he died at the scene. An investigation continues. Waupaca County sheriff's deputies are still asking for public eyewitness accounts of what happened.
Southern Wisconsin had some nasty storms this past weekend -- but in the north, folks took advantage of the drier and cooler weather. It was a great weekend for the Northern Wisconsin State Fair in Chippewa Falls. Over 75,000 people showed up, a little more than last year. The fair's Rusty Volk said the weather encouraged people to get outdoors -- and the fair did its part by having some new activities like a primate zoo. County fairs are a popular tradition throughout the Badger State, both for entertainment and for local residents to have a variety of animals, foods, plants, and artwork judged. They normally run through early September. The State Fair runs from July 31st through August 10th in the Milwaukee suburb of West Allis.
A judge in Rhinelander said the state Justice Department should not have used a man's domestic abuse conviction to deny him a concealed weapons' permit. Raymond von Bober the Second of Rhinelander was turned down for a concealed carry permit last year, because he was convicted for grabbing his wife during an argument in 1995. The state cited a federal law which prohibits gun possession by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. But like some others before him, von Bober said Wisconsin's disorderly conduct law for domestic abuse does not always meet the federal requirements for physical abuse that would justify denying a gun permit. Circuit Judge Patrick O'Melia said it was not clear whether von Bober's conviction was violent under the federal threshold. The judge said the case hinged on "what the convicting court found, and not what the defendant did." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said it was apparently the first time in Wisconsin that a concealed carry permit denial for domestic abuse was overturned by a judge.
A fire that damaged a custom wire factory in Merrill was contained to a metal plating room that covers about 15-percent of the plant. Still, damage was estimated at two-million dollars in yesterday's blaze at Northern Wire. Merrill fire officials said the blaze was contained in the specialized plating area -- and because there were unknown chemicals nearby, a haz-mat team from the Wausau Fire Department was put on standby. Wausau was among six fire departments which helped with the blaze, which was apparently caused by an electrical problem. An investigation continues into the exact cause. No injuries were reported.
Police in Oshkosh have been looking for a man who seen leaving a puppy near a trash bin behind a truck stop. Officials said a two-week-old puppy was found last Thursday in a black plastic bag in back of the Planeview Truck Stop along the Highway 41 expressway. A surveillance video caught the incident, in which a man was seen approaching the trash bin with a dark object and leaving without it. The Oshkosh Area Humane Society has been caring for the animal. They say she'll need surgery for a broken pelvis, and she also has an injured spine.
Tesla Motors has agreed to pay $127,000 to a suburban Milwaukee doctor and his lawyer, to cover the cost of an allegedly-defective luxury car. Robert Montgomery of Franklin filed suit under Wisconsin's Lemon Law -- which sets up a procedure to obtain refunds or replacements for defective new vehicles. In his lawsuit, Montgomery and Lemon Law attorney Vince Megna alleged that the doctor's 2013 SP Tesla sedan was in a shop for more than 30 days with various issues. The case was transferred from state court to federal court in May. The two sides then got together and reached a settlement last month. A federal court recently approved it. Montgomery received enough to cover the costs of his vehicle, plus taxes and legal fees.
The Racine County district attorney cleared two police officers today, saying they were justified in killing a suicidal man eight days ago. DA Rich Chiapete did not identify the officers in a letter to police officials. The officers were asked to check on 37-year-old Rajko Utvic, who reportedly had just taken 100 tables of Ibuprofen. Investigators said Utvic was bleeding from self-inflicted wounds when he covered himself with a blanket and lunged at the responding officers with a knife. The officers reportedly tried settling him down with a Taser stun gun -- and when that didn't work, Utvic was shot and killed.
A Fond du Lac fire lieutenant knew exactly what to do when he removed about 100,000 honeybees from a maple tree outside a couple's home. Todd Shippee is a bee-keeper -- so it was no surprise to him when he saw a giant group that swarmed around their queen bee at a temporary tree home late last week. Shippee cut a branch, in a way that transferred the eight-pound swarm to his bee colonies. No one was stung during Saturday's incident. Shippee tells the Fond du Lac Reporter that people should not panic or kill honeybees when they see them -- because the world needs them. Honeybee populations have declined due to pesticide usage and losses of habitat. As a result, bee-keepers have increased their prices to help farmers pollinate products like cranberries. There's a UW-Madison study this summer to determine whether cranberry growers can use natural plants to attract native bees to their crops.