WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Richland Center man arrested for making threats against the President
RICHLAND CENTER - An 81-year-old Wisconsin man has been charged with threatening to kill President Obama.
Prosecutors said Elwyn Fossedal made a threatening remark at the post office in Richland Center on October 15th. He was quoted as saying, "If President Obama was here, I would shoot him right there ... and kill him right now." Secret Service agents interviewed the man the next day. Not only did he refuse to take back his threat, officials said Fossedal made a number of other threats against the president. The suspect was arrested last Friday. He's been charged in federal court with threatening the president. Agents said Fossedal recently lost his wife of 57 years -- and he was trying to brush off his grief by getting mad at people the Secret Service protects.
A state appeals court ruled today that law enforcement unions may negotiate what they have to pay for health insurance deductibles. Police unions were exempt from the 2011 Act-10 bargaining restrictions imposed on other state-and-local public employee groups. But majority Republicans later decided to impose at least some limits on police groups, by saying they could not negotiate the types of health insurance they get. Eau Claire County deputies claimed that they could still have a say on their deductibles. The Fourth District Court of Appeals in Madison agreed in a ruling issued this morning.
State officials are starting recovery proceedings against an Arkansas-based canning company. The Allens Company recently entered bankruptcy, and several Wisconsin farmers have not been paid for crops sent to the company's plant in Pulaski. Producer security chief Eric Hanson says the state's program covers these types of situations. Claims have to be filed before December 20th in order for producers to be paid by the state. Farmers who need to make a claim should call 608-224-4968.
Milwaukee police are looking for a missing 13-year-old girl. Tatiana Clayton was reported missing on Monday, she was last seen leaving Martin Luther King Elementary School. Police say she is four feet 11 inches tall, 165 pounds and has black hair, brown eyes.
A suburban Milwaukee woman has been found safe, after missing for a week. West Allis police officers found 25-year-old Cassandra LaFave late yesterday afternoon. Officials did not release further details, saying the case remains under investigation. Detectives are trying to determine what caused her to vanish last Tuesday. A relative told Milwaukee's WITI-TV that LaFave became addicted to drugs after being a honor student in Hartford. The relative also said LaFave's family was afraid that she was a victim of human trafficking.
Unemployment went down last month in all but one of Wisconsin's 12 metro areas. State officials said today that Racine's preliminary jobless rate was seven-point-nine percent in October -- the actual rate without a seasonal adjustment. It's the highest among the state's metros, and it's two-tenths of a percent higher than in September. Janesville had the second-highest rate at six-point-nine percent, and Metro Milwaukee was at six-and-a-half. Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Madison all had jobless rates below five-percent. Madison was the lowest at four-point-one. Four of the state's 12 metros lost jobs last month on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Metro Milwaukee had the biggest loss with 800. The Appleton area had the largest increase in jobs, with 800. Seventeen of the state's 72 counties saw their unadjusted jobless rates go up from September to October. Iron County was the highest as 12.1 percent. Saint Croix was the lowest at 3.8.
An attorney has been suspended for at least nine months, after she filed legal documents containing anti-Catholic slurs in a case involving a group from Wisconsin. The Minnesota Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended Rebekah Nett, and allowed her to file for reinstatement after nine months. That's longer than the six-month suspension recommended by a special referee back in January. The referee, retired Judge Charles Flinn, said all allegations against Nett involved just one client -- the Samanta Roy Institute of Science-and-Technology in Shawano. In 2011, Nett filed bankruptcy documents in which she called Judge Nancy Dreher a "black-robed bigot" and a "Catholic Knight witch hunter." Nett said it was all part of a conspiracy to deny justice to the CEO of the Shawano group. Nett also accused the judge and other court officials of conspiring with the Vatican to destroy the Samanta Roy group, which some call a cult. Nett grew up in the organization.
A state appeals judge refused today to drop a delinquency finding against a central Wisconsin school student who degraded his teacher in a You-Tube video. One of three judges on the Fourth District Appellate Court in Madison ruled that the video was protected speech under the First Amendment. However, the judge said the 15-year-old Portage County student named Kaleb remains delinquent on juvenile allegations of unlawfully using a computerized communication system, and disorderly conduct. The boy's attorney argued that if the video is protected speech, the teen cannot be found guilty of anything. The appellate judge said the youngster spread his computerized message of degradation by telling friends about it.
A rural Fond du Lac man has pleaded innocent to 85 misdemeanor theft counts, after he allegedly stole $114,000 from a company where he used to work. 30-year-old Christopher Gustavus is accused of embezzling the money from Masters Computer Services in Fond du Lac for more than 20 months ending in April. Prosecutors said he bought things with a company credit card, transferred money to an account in his wife's name, and later sold items on Craigslist that were bought with stolen funds. Gustavus reportedly told officers he spent the money on electronics and furniture. A new judge has been requested in the case. No further proceedings are scheduled for now.
Former state Senator Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac has been cleared of a charge related to his 2011 drunk driving arrest. This morning, the Second District Court of Appeals in Waukesha upheld a circuit court ruling that dropped a charge of refusing to take a breath test. That was when Hopper was confronted by police after he drove into a grocery store parking lot, where he was told that witnesses saw him driving drunk on his way home from a Packers' game two months after he lost his Senate seat. He was also charged with drunk driving. A jury later found him innocent of that count, after Hopper convinced them that his arrest was politically-motivated. Today, the appellate court said Hopper should also be cleared of not taking a breath test, because Fond du Lac County prosecutors failed to make the required arguments before a trial court on that count. Hopper, who's now 47, later became the head of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation. He resigned from that post after being arrested, reportedly for a fight with another man at his ex-wife's home. Online court records do not list any charges in that case.
A judge has been asked for a second time to drop charges against an Appleton elementary principal, for allegedly interfering with a police probe into one of his teachers. The attorney for 50-year-old Richard Waters appeared in Calumet County Circuit Court yesterday. Len Kaschinsky entered innocent pleas to his client's charges of obstructing police and not reporting child abuse. And he asked that the charges be dismissed. Both counts are connected with the abuse case of former teacher Mary Berglund. She pleaded no contest after being accused in 2011 of beating special education students at the Janet Berry Elementary School, where Waters is principal. Police said Waters contacted school officials after learning of the allegations -- and an assistant superintendent contacted child protection officials five days after the abuse came to light. State law requires child abuse to be reported immediately, but Waters' attorney says a reasonable amount of time is normally permitted to verify allegations first. The obstruction charge accused Waters of altering a letter before giving it to police, and making a conflicting statement to one from another witness. No new court date is set.
A nature island in Lake Michigan will continue to be preserved, after the Nature Conservancy bought 94-percent of the land for a bargain price. The Fred Luber family of Milwaukee and Sister Bay sold virtually all of Saint Martin Island, a two-mile long strip located between the Door Peninsula of Wisconsin and the Garden Peninsula of Michigan. It's a place where birds, bats, dragonflies, and butterflies stop to rest and nourish themselves. The center of the island has a forest of sugar maples surrounded by a white cedar forest, dunes, limestone bluffs, and cobble-stone shores. The Nature Conservancy bought 1,244 acres for one-and-a-half million dollars. That's only a third of what the land is worth. The Nature Conservancy promises to devote the land's remaining value to protecting the site. In the future, the group plans to transfer ownership of Saint Martin and nearby Rocky Island to the U.S. Fish-and-Wildlife Service. Rocky Island was donated to the Nature Conservancy 27 years ago.
Lake Michigan whitefish are being found in Wisconsin's inland rivers for the first time in a century. The whitefish population rebounded in the 1980's in Lake Michigan and the Bay of Green Bay -- but they had not been seen inland until just recently. It's not known why. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel said improved water quality might be a factor, or the population in Green Bay may have grown to the point in which young whitefish are being pushed out of normal spawning areas. Scientists say the inland migration appears to be coming solely from the Bay of Green Bay -- and it does not appear that whitefish are leaving Lake Michigan at the moment.
Due to the threat of the emerald ash borer, state officials are reminding hunters not to transport firewood. The beetle was discovered this week in Dane County, making it the 21st county in the state to have found the destructive, tree-killing pest. A spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture says unfortunately, the emerald ash borer is here to stay. The cold winter weather will not stop its spread. The department says that hunters can accidentally introduce the beetle to other parts of the state by moving firewood, so they’re urging everyone to buy wood in the same area if the plan to burn it.