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WISCONSIN NEWS ROUND-UP: Justice Dept. criticizes Milwaukee FBI office director

MILWAUKEE - The U.S. Justice Department's internal watchdog said former Milwaukee FBI office director Teresa Carlson used "extremely poor judgment" by influencing an employee's testimony in a disability trial.  

The inspector general released its report on the matter yesterday, after the Justice Department's Public Integrity unit refused to prosecute Carlson.  It all started when Oak Creek native Justin Slaby filed suit.  He alleged that he was wrongly dismissed from a training academy for FBI agents, because he lost his left hand while serving in Iraq as an Army Ranger.  Slaby's attorney later said Carlson tried to get her former employee Mark Crider to testify against Slaby in a trial, claiming he was not qualified to be an agent due to his disability.  Crider had previously supported Slaby, and he later testified to that effect at a trial last August in which Slaby won his right to train with the FBI.  Carlson's alleged influence was leaked out before the trial.  Once that happened, she was transferred to Washington as a deputy assistant FBI director, a post she still holds.  She has not commented on the inspector general's findings. 


Milwaukee is apparently not the only place in Wisconsin where child pornography investigations have been delayed.  The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel obtained a spreadsheet yesterday showing that 41 cases waited for at least two months to be investigated at state Justice field offices in Wausau, Eau Claire, and Madison as well as Milwaukee.  As of late February, the average delay in the 41 cases in question was more than a year.  The longest was three-and-a-half years.  The documents were the result of a Justice Department review. Spokeswoman Dana Brueck told the Journal-Sentinel it did not identify a problematic pattern at any other the state's field offices outside Milwaukee.  She cited a number of reasons why cases could be delayed, due to things like the quality of the tips received -- and the complexity of certain cases. Milwaukee field office director Willie Brantley was let go after investigative delays were exposed at his facility.  Milwaukee agent Anna King quit.  Those cases showed that a Racine man was left free to molest a boy he was babysitting -- and a drug and alcohol counselor from Pewaukee did not have to register as a sex offender in his abuse case.


A 26-year-old man was shot-to-death in Milwaukee last night.  It happened just before seven o'clock in a west side neighborhood.  Police said the man was shot several times, and he died at the scene.  Officials did not release other details.  They were asking residents and witnesses to share what they know.  


The final result is still not known in a state Senate primary, after Green County canvassers certified a recount yesterday with 110 ballots missing. Democrat Pat Bomhack asked for the recount, after the Election Night tally from August 12th showed him losing to Ernie Wittwer by just seven votes out of 7,700 cast.  Bomhack gained 28 votes in Monroe, where the ballots were lost.  However, we still don't know who won the primary, because recounts have not been completed yet in the Juneau and Richland county parts of the 17th Senate District.  Wittwer, a former DOT budget director, says he'll talk to a lawyer before deciding whether to challenge Green County's final canvass.  It's not known why Monroe had ballots missing.  City Clerk Carol Stamm told the county canvassing board that a poll worker might have mixed used and unused ballots before throwing the unused ones away.  She also said it's possible that somebody took the ballots right after the polls closed.  Police are investigating to see if a crime took place.  The final winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Howard Marklein of Spring Green in November for the Senate seat to be given up by Republican Dale Schultz of Richland Center.


A western Wisconsin woman has been convicted on reduced charges for drugging her boyfriend's young daughter to death.  Twenty-three year old Amanda Butts pleaded guilty in Trempealeau County to reckless homicide, and no contest to felony child abuse.  One other abuse charge was dropped, along with a count of illegally serving narcotics to a minor.  Prosecutors said Butts was babysitting 22-month-old Alexis Behlke in June of last year, when she bruised the toddler and fed her a combination of drugs which included oxycodone.  Officials quoted Butts as saying that Alexis was whining and would not sleep -- so she gave the child the drugs to settle her down.  Her boyfriend was working at the time.  Her sentencing date has not been set.  A scheduling conference is set for September 8th.  Online court records also show that Butts has a plea hearing scheduled September 29th on a Jackson County charge of obstructing an officer.  That charge came about three months after the infant death.  


A Wausau woman has been sentenced to two years in jail for killing a toddler while backing out of a driveway four years ago when she was 17.  Shanice Stands, who's now 21, was also put on five years of probation with a long list of conditions she has to follow -- and if she doesn't, she'll go to prison for three-to-eight years.  The incident happened in September of 2010 in Forest County.  Stands was leaving a driveway when her vehicle ran over a three-year-old boy, who died the same night at a Rhinelander hospital.  Authorities said Stands was high on marijuana at the time, and she did not have a driver's license -- only a learner's permit issued in neighboring Minnesota.  She was fined five-thousand dollars as part of her sentencing yesteray.  Half of her jail term is for four previous bail jumping charges.  Stands pleaded guilty to felony counts of negligent homicide and driving under the influence of a controlled substance.  Other charges were dropped in a plea deal.


A Milwaukee man who killed a cook at a George Webb's restaurant was sentenced yesterday to 42 years in prison.  Jurors allowed 29-year-old Delorean Bryson to escape a life term, by convicting him on a reduced charge of reckless homicide.  He shot 21-year-old Reginald Evans last December, as the cook was trying to stop a food fight in which Evans and others in his group were harassing other customers.  Restaurant owner Thomas Aldridge said the shooting caused him to lose insurance for all of his diners after 31 years.  He said sales are down significantly -- and customers still want to know exactly where Evans had been killed.  Circuit Judge Timothy Dugan said Bryson lied during his trial, claiming he was drunk while remembering every small detail of what happened.  Dugan also Bryson blamed everyone involved in the incident except himself.  Three others in the group were given jail time for an altercation which led up to the shooting.


The Potawatomi tribe might lose almost two-thousand slot machines at its casino in Milwaukee, if it keeps refusing to pay its annual fee to the state. That's according to letters obtained by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  It reports that Potawatomi chairman Gus Frank told Governor Scott Walker that the tribe's estimated $25-million dollar annual fee is paid in exchange for not allowing any other casinos within 50 miles.  Frank reportedly wrote that if Walker approves the Menominee tribe's Hard Rock casino in Kenosha, the Potawatomi's fee would amount to an illegal tax.  That letter was written on July 9.  Two weeks later, Walker's special attorney Lance Boldrey said if the Potawatomi wins its case, additional gaming approved in 2003 by former Governor Jim Doyle would be voided.  And the casino would be limited to having a-thousand slots and video poker machines instead of its present three-thousand, with the compact to expire in 2019.  Tribal spokesman Ken Walsh tells the Journal-Sentinel called the governor's warning "attorney bluster."  Walker told lawmakers on Tuesday that the Potawatomi's refusal to pay its fee could put a crimp into the state budget.  Earlier yesterday, state and local leaders from Kenosha held a news conference to urge Walker to approve the casino, saying it would create thousands of new jobs. State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) said he wants to make sure the casino will be successful enough for its owners to keep their promise to off-set losses at other casinos in the region.


State transportation officials said a "highly unusual" combination of factors caused a high Interstate bridge in Green Bay to sag last September.  The DOT released a summary yesterday of its final report of the incident, in which a support pier went down two-feet and caused part of the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge on I-43 to sag.  No one was hurt at that time.  Minor corrosion was also found on 17 other piers.  It took two-and-a-half months to make the repairs, and the DOT said the final cost was ten-million dollars -- much less than the $18-to-20-million that was originally projected.  Officials said soil conditions caused the foundation of steel piling to corrode and buckle.  Those factors included a porous fill of fly ash in the upper levels of the soil -- and the water and soils surrounding the piling had high amounts of chlorides.  Project manager Tom Buchholz tells WLUK-TV in Green Bay it was amazing the bridge still stood after the sagging incident.  In his words, "We're very, very lucky." As part of the repairs, crews installed probes that monitor rust and corrosion, and pilings at eight spots on the bridge will be tested every two years.


For the third time in seven years, President Obama will visit Milwaukee on Labor Day.  He's expected to speak at the city's Labor-Fest on Monday, but the White House has not released any details.  Obama spoke to about seven-thousand people at the 2010 Labor-Fest.  He also attended the event in 2008, during his first campaign for the presidency.  Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke also plans to be there.  Her campaign spokesman Joe Zepecki was not immediately sure whether Burke and Obama will appear on stage at the same time.  Burke is running neck-and-neck with Republican Governor Scott Walker.  With less than ten weeks before the election, a new Marquette Law School poll has the two in a dead heat -- even though a third of the 800-plus registered voters still don't know enough about her to form an opinion.  The same poll gives Obama a 45-percent approval rating as president, with 50-percent disapproving of his job.  Obama's last Wisconsin appearance was in January, when he spoke about job training at a GE plant in Waukesha.


Wisconsin's newly-extended mourning dove hunting season will begin on Labor Day.  Officials agreed to let hunters shoot the cooing doves from September first through November 29th.  That's 20 days longer than in the past.  The DNR says Monday is also the start of the early teal and goose hunts.  The early teal season will run through September seventh.  The early goose hunt goes through September 15th.


If you have weeds in your yard, they're probably nothing compared to the winners of the "Biggest Weed contest" at this month's Farm Technology Days. The University of Wisconsin Extension service says Wayne Greeler of Neillsville had the grand champion -- a giant ragweed plant over ten-feet tall and seven-feet wide.  Ken McGwin of Montello actually had a taller ragweed.  But his 12-footer didn't win, because it was only four-feet wide.  The weeds were measured in their normal growth forms.  There were winners each day of the three-day farm show. They'll all get to learn more about their weeds, since they're receiving weed-identification books.


The Packers don't play until tonight, but somebody in Green Bay is already a big winner.  A Powerball ticket sold in Titletown won the second prize of a million dollars in last night's drawing.  That ticket matched all five regular numbers but not the Powerball.  Also, a player in New Berlin won the third prize of ten-thousand dollars by matching four numbers plus the Powerball. Just over 7,100 other Wisconsin players won smaller prizes ranging from four-dollars to $300.  Last night's numbers were 17, 24, 26, 45, and 46.  The Powerball was 19, and the Power Play multiplier was three.  Nobody won the jackpot, so it goes up to $90-million for Saturday night.  In Mega Millions, the top prize is at $20-million for tomorrow night.