Thursday State News Briefs: Oostburg clerk facing charges for embezzlementWisconsin News
-- A former village clerk and treasurer in Oostburg is facing a second round of criminal charges for embezzling hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.
OOSTBURG - A former village clerk and treasurer in Oostburg is facing a second round of criminal charges for embezzling hundreds-of-thousands of dollars.
Kim Simmelink spent nine months in jail for stealing $109,000 in 2005-and-’06. Earlier this year, the Sheboygan County village filed a civil suit that accused the 55-year-old Simmelink of taking a million dollars more. And that apparently spurred new criminal charges filed this week. Simmelink was charged with nine counts of felony theft. Those charges allege that he took almost $69,000 by creating a fake business to which the village made payments. But the criminal complaint said 59 fraudulent payments were made, totaling $589,000. And prosecutors say they expect to file charges related to that amount. The civil suit accused Simmelink of taking around a million-dollars in Oostburg village funds between 1990 and 2003. He’s due in court on his new charges April 23rd.
A fired Milwaukee police officer had his sentencing delayed yesterday until he could find a new lawyer. Ladmarald Cates was convicted in January of molesting a crime victim and violating her civil rights. Cates said he only had one conversation with his previous attorney, Bridget Boyle-Saxton – and he’s not getting the legal help he deserves. Boyle-Saxton has had health problems, and her father – attorney Gerald Boyle – told a judge yesterday that she’s been hospitalized since last weekend. Cates said he didn’t want the elder Boyle to represent him, and Federal Judge J.P. Stadtmueller agreed to give him more time to find somebody else. Cates could get a life prison sentence for raping a 19-year-old woman, soon after she called 911 in the summer of 2010 because her house was being vandalized. Cates had stopped the woman twice before for traffic violations, and he tried to argue that the sex was consensual.
A decomposed body was found yesterday by children who were playing on the rocks along the Lake Michigan shore in Kenosha. An autopsy is scheduled today in Milwaukee. Investigators are checking reports of missing persons, to see if they can identify the body. It was found near the Anderson Arts Center in Kenosha, and authorities say it could be an adult man.
A Madison man was found guilty of stalking a prosecutor who helped convict his wife of child abuse. A Dane County jury deliberated seven-and-a-half hours before finding 54-year-old Michael “Ki” Moller guilty last night of a felony. Prosecutors said he posted what was considered to be threatening photos and messages on his Internet blogs. Former Dane County assistant district attorney Karie Cattanach was targeted after she help convict Moller’s wife Lynn of child abuse at her home day care center in 2010. Cattanach testified that the criticism was professional at first. But she later became terrified after seeing altered threatening photos of her daughter online, along with pictures of her house and her address. But defense attorney Aaron Nelson said many of the postings were parody – and Moller was just exercising his First Amendment free speech rights by criticizing a government official. He could get up to one-and-a-half years in prison and two years of extended supervision when he’s sentenced.
Home foreclosures will be on the rise later this year, after the numbers of first-time notices went up nationally for three straight months. In Wisconsin, the firm of Realty-Trac said one-of-every-578 households received foreclosure notices in March. That’s the ninth-highest rate in the country, although the state’s total for first-time notices is relatively small at 45-hundred. Wisconsin’s total foreclosure cases have gone up-and-down in recent months compared to 2011. But nationally, banks have just become more aggressive in pursuing cases that have been in limbo for months or even years. That was after the nation’s largest lenders reached a 25-billion-dollar legal settlement of lawsuits by Wisconsin and other states which alleged deceptive lending practices. Realty-Trac says many homes which are now entering the foreclosure process have loans which have gone unpaid for a long time. And there are not as many cases in which borrowers had just started to get behind. Arizona has the nation’s highest ratio of homes in foreclosure. About one-of-every-300 properties received notices last month.
A former top Walker aide in Milwaukee County asked a state appeals court today to move her criminal misconduct trial to Columbia County, where she now lives. Kelly Rindfleisch is one of five former aides and associates charged in a John Doe investigation into Milwaukee County government when Governor Scott Walker was the county executive. Rindfleisch said a 2007 state law allows officials charged with ethics violations to be tried in their home counties instead of where the alleged crimes were committed. By moving her case to Portage – the Columbia County seat – Rindfleisch said there would be less media speculation and interference in her criminal case. But Milwaukee judge David Hansher turned down her request to move the case in late March. Rindfleisch is charged with four felony misconduct charges for allegedly using her work hours in the county executive’s office to campaign for Republican Lieutenant Governor candidate Brett Davis in 2010.
Milwaukee’s police chief said his department has received many more complaints about officers illegally searching suspects’ body cavities, in an apparent search for hidden drugs. Flynn said most of the complaints are of a similar nature. He would not confirm the reasons for the searches or give an exact number of complaints. Flynn said state-and-federal prosecutors warned him against being too specific while they investigate the possibility of criminal charges. Flynn did say that no new officers have been re-assigned as a result of the new complaints. Last month, seven officers and a sergeant were stripped of their police powers and put on desk duty. Flynn said many of those officers had only been present during the strip searches – and they all did not conduct them themselves. Still, Flynn said it was appropriate to take away the police powers of all those officers. The chief made his comments after the Milwaukee Common Council passed a resolution calling on the police department to be more forthcoming about their investigations.
Appleton is the nation’s best place to live for outdoor sporting enthusiasts. That’s according to a new ranking by Outdoor Life magazine in its May issue. Communities were ranked on their nearby hunting-and-fishing opportunities. Outdoor Life said the Appleton area had prime opportunities for deer hunting and fishing for walleye, muskie, and small-mouth bass – all within 50 miles of the city. The magazine said hundreds of geese travel through the region every fall. And it mentioned the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to the north. They called it quote, “one of the last true wild places in the Northwoods, and home to deer, bears, and grouse.” Salmon Idaho ranked second on Outdoor Life’s best places for sports-people to live. Venice Louisiana, Rapid City South Dakota, and Centerville, Iowa round out the Top-Five.
Temperatures are rebounding nicely after another hard freeze in much of Wisconsin this morning. In Sparta, the mercury jumped from 21 degrees to 43 by nine o’clock. It was 50 in Monroe at mid-morning, after overnight lows dipped into the 20’s as far south as Burlington. Highs today are expected to be in the 50’s-and-60’s, and it’s supposed to be a few degrees warmer during the weekend. But today could also be our last sunny day for awhile. A low pressure system is brewing west of the Great Plains – and there’s a good chance of rain statewide from tomorrow through weekend. The National Weather Service says severe thunderstorms are possible on Saturday.
Wisconsin prosecutors are responding in different ways to a request to file felony charges against fake Democrats in last year’s Senate recall primaries. Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol said he’s looking for another DA to investigate whether Gladys Huber broke the law. Gerol said he has a conflict – because he notarized Huber’s declaration of candidacy. The liberal group One Wisconsin Now has asked prosecutors to criminally charge the six Republicans who ran as Democrats in last summer. They gave the GOP senators an extra month to campaign, by forcing the real Democrats to have primaries first. But Mike Browne of One Wisconsin Now said the fake Democrats made a sworn declaration that they would represent the Democratic Party – and then did the opposite. The Wisconsin State Journal did some checking yesterday to see how the prosecutors were responding. The La Crosse County DA said he was investigating fake Democrat James Smith in the recall contest against former Senator Dan Kapanke. The Waushara County DA asked the state Government Accountability Board for help in its investigation. The Winnebago County DA said he would not review a complaint against fake Democrat John Buckstaff, because he died. The Pierce County DA did not respond to a question about Isaac Weix, the fake Democrat who ran there a year ago. Weix is also a fake Democrat in this spring’s lieutenant governor recall – and Huber is running as a Democrat in the governor’s recall contest. They’re designed to assure that recall primaries for six offices will all take place on May eighth, with general elections June fifth. A Democratic lawyer has also challenged the fake Democrats in those races.