Christmas Eve State News Briefs: Greendale man to be charged with defrauding the governmentWisconsin News
-- A federal court trial is scheduled in April for a businessman who allegedly lied about being blind, so he could get thousands-of-dollars in Social Security and Medicare benefits.
GREENDALE - A federal court trial is scheduled in April for a businessman who allegedly lied about being blind, so he could get thousands-of-dollars in Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Doctors declared 57-year-old Lawrence Popp of Greendale blind in 2004 – and he reportedly claimed that his income plunged from $87,000 a year to less than 10-thousand. But according to a search warrant affidavit, federal investigators said they learned that Popp never was blind – he’s been running several businesses – and he made hundreds-of-thousands of dollars a year. An indictment that was recently unsealed said that Popp received $175,000 in federal disability payments from 2004-to-’09, as well as 115-thousand in Medicare benefits while allegedly evading taxes that totaled $178,000. And officials said Popp laundered money from one company to a related business. Investigators said his wife Kimberly admitted that she and her husband took regular vacations to the Cayman Islands, where he bought her a $25,000 dollar diamond-and-emerald necklace. The couple divorced five years ago. Federal agents said they first caught onto the supposedly-blind Popp when he drove to a meeting with Social Security officials in Greenfield in 2008, and parked his car a few blocks away. His attorney says there could be a plea deal – but he’s not commenting further.
Police in the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy plan to seek a reckless homicide charge against a man suspected in a fatal weekend stabbing. Officers were called to an apartment early Saturday, where a 52-year-old man was found to have major stab wounds to his back. He was taken to Milwaukee’s Froedtert Hospital, where he died a short time later. A short time later, police said they found a person-of-interest in the case – and they later arrested him. Officials said both men knew each other well.
The UW-Madison athletic department is packing a lot gear to take to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl in eight days. But one thing they won’t be taking this time is alcohol. That’s after what happened a year ago, when former associate athletic director John Chadima allegedly molested a student during a Rose Bowl party he hosted with money from boosters. Chadima resigned in January, after a party for athletic student workers at a team hotel in Los Angeles last December 30th. In May, the UW approved an interim policy which governs the use of alcohol at athletic department events both on-and-off the Madison campus. It forbids alcohol from events like team banquets, letter presentations, and graduation programs. Beer and booze are allowed at other events – but taxpayer money cannot be used, and student athletes and managers cannot be served, even if they’re with their parents. UW-Madison said Chadima violated previous alcohol policies – and they were given a review after athletic director Barry Alvarez said the department’s oversight appeared to get lax.
Christmas Eve is off to an apparent tragic start in the Milwaukee suburb of Wauwatosa, where a police officer was reported to be “down.” There were no immediate details of what happened, but WTMJ in Milwaukee said officers were looking for a suspect – officers were protecting the downtown fire station – and a reporter quoted an officer who warned, “We may not be in a safe area.”
A Republican state legislative leader says he will not support bills which limit access to guns. Kaukauna Representative Jim Steineke, the incoming assistant majority leader, says any legislation should focus on the people who commit crimes – and not just the guns themselves. Gun control has been a hot topic for the new session, in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre and a pair of killing sprees in the Milwaukee area. Steineke tells Gannett Wisconsin Media that Connecticut has some of the nation’s strictest gun laws and quote, “I don’t know what law we could have put in place that would have averted that tragedy.” In the last session, two Democratic gun control measures never got to the public hearing stage. One would have required criminal background checks for those who buy guns at shows or from other owners. The other would have required semi-automatic handguns to produce micro-stamps on all the cartridges they fire. Critics blame the National Rifle Association’s intense lobbying for striking down any gun limitations. Gannett said the NRA spent $108,000 and 676 hours lobbying Wisconsin lawmakers in 2011 and the first half of this year. Senate Democrat Fred Risser of Madison has been trying for years to pass gun control bills – and he says he’ll try again in the new session. He says he understands the formidable odds – but after what happened in Connecticut, Risser believes gun control has a better chance of passing now.
A man convicted of robbing 10 banks in southeast Wisconsin has been sentenced to almost five-and-a-half years in a federal prison. 37-year-old Michael Scott of Beaver Dam had pleaded guilty to a 10-count federal robbery indictment. Authorities said Scott normally wore sunglasses and a baseball cap when he passed notes to tellers demanding cash – and not to press their alarms. Federal Judge J.P. Stadtmueller said the tellers suffered trauma that was quote, “profound and long-lasting.” The robberies occurred between April 23rd and July 13th at banks in Kenosha, Delafield, Oconomowoc, Richfield, Hartford, Fond du Lac, Westfield, West Bend, and Germantown. Scott was arrested at a gas station in Milwaukee soon after the final bank hold-up at Germantown.
A 37-year-old man is due in court on Wednesday for allegedly killing his father. The suspect called Washington County sheriff’s deputies and reportedly admitted that he killed the 76-year-old man at the home they shared in Richfield. When officers arrived, they said the suspect immediately surrendered – and officers found the victim’s body inside the home a short time later. The man was arrested on a possible charge of first-degree intentional homicide. The father owned the home. No names were immediately released.
A new database shows that Wisconsin nursing homes have been hit hard by gastro-intestinal illnesses over the last three years. The national investigative reporting group Pro-Publica says at least six Wisconsin home residents died and 15-hundred residents and staffers had gastro-related illnesses. And the group says it’s partially because staffers did not control spreads of the novo-virus and other diseases which are highly contagious. The database includes three years of inspection reports from almost 400 Wisconsin nursing homes and long-term care units which take federal funding – and that’s almost every facility. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel analyzed the Wisconsin data, and found that over a-thousand nursing home residents and 472 staffers had gastro-intestinal illnesses in the three years listed. The six deaths were at the Lasata Care Center in Cedarburg, where a novo-virus outbreak also hospitalized two residents and sickened 140 others in late 2010 and early 2011. Eighty staffers were affected, and only 38 residents avoided getting sick. Lasata was fined 54-hundred dollars. Deficiencies are ranked from “A” through “L” according to their severity. Only four Wisconsin nursing homes were found to have the worst category of deficiencies this year, and three were in Milwaukee – the Sunrise, Lake Terrace, and Cameo centers. The other one was the Brookfield Rehab and Specialty Center. You can check inspection data on any nursing home you choose at the database, located at www.projects.ProPublica.org/Nursing-Homes.
Getting home for Christmas was harder than expected for about 150 airline passengers in Milwaukee. They had to be put on other flights, after a Delta aircraft bound for Minneapolis-Saint Paul had engine trouble and was forced to stay on the ground. Milwaukee fire crews were called around 9:30 yesterday morning, after the passengers boarded Delta Flight 921 and smoke emerged from one of the engines before take-off. A Milwaukee fire official said no flames could be seen – and crews made sure the engine was cool enough to taxi back to the terminal on its own, which it did. The passengers then left the aircraft, and nobody was hurt. Delta said all passengers were booked onto other flights.
A memorial service was held during the weekend for a psychologist who examined Milwaukee serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. 90-year-old Samuel Friedman of Mequon died eight days ago at his home in Mequon. Friedman had testified about the mental state of numerous criminal suspects -- including Dahmer, who admitted killing 17 mostly gay young men and boys in 1991. He concluded that Dahmer was not insane, and the killer was sent to the Portage prison where he was murdered in 1994. Friedman portrayed Dahmer as a "lost boy" who had demanding parents -- a "lonely, alienated boy" who had "difficulty relating to anyone." And Friedman had concluded there was no substance to the insanity plea that Dahmer had entered. Friedman was raised in Hartford, Connecticut, and received a doctorate degree in psychology from Minnesota after serving in World War II. Besides serving in private practice, Friedman was a psychiatry and mental health professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin -- and he taught at Marquette, and at the UW in Milwaukee and Madison.
A northeast Wisconsin church that was heavily damaged by fire in March is getting its own second birth at Christmas. Repairs are about halfway complete at the Klondike Community Church in Oconto County. And volunteer Don Holtger tells WLUK-TV in Green Bay that the goal is to get the steeple up by the end of the year. He says the steeple is an exact replica one of that burned in the spring – and an identical cross will go up at the altar. The repairs cost around $700,000. Building owner Theresa Schaut says money is tight – but lots of folks have donated their time and materials, and progress is being made slowly but surely. Christmas Eve services will be held in the basement of the nearly 100-year-old church. Prosecutors said 28-year-old Drew Christensen admitted setting the church fire and five others in the region. He has only been charged with setting two smaller fires in Oconto County, and the status of those cases will be reviewed in mid-February.