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CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Rhinelander bar owner charged with obstructing police, stemming from a Bret Michaels concert

The owner of a bar-and-music hall in Rhinelander is charged with obstructing police, in a dispute stemming from a Bret Michaels concert last month. 55-year-old John Mason, who owns the Elbo Room, has pleaded innocent to an Oneida County misdemeanor. Prosecutors said he signed for a package delivered by Fed-Ex that was intended for the band's tour manager. Mason allegedly argued with the manager over back-stage passes, and a chance to meet Michaels. The bar owner told police he never received the package, and didn't know where it was. The manager was e-mailed a receipt with Mason's signature -- and the delivery driver described Mason as the one who signed for it. Mason claimed he found it later while cleaning the hall after Michaels' concert. Mason is free on a signature bond. A pre-trial conference in his case is set for February 25th.


Two Janesville residents face possible criminal charges, after one of them allegedly pointed a handgun at another driver on Madison's Beltline. It happened Wednesday afternoon. A 19-year-old motorist told police that he was merging onto the expressway with a window open, when a passenger in a pick-up truck tossed change through the window. The 19-year-old followed the truck -- and when he got next to the vehicle, the 42-year-old male driver reportedly was pointing a gun at him. A 51-year-old female passenger in the truck denied throwing the coins, and she said the other driver actually cut them off and flashed an obscene gesture. Police said the woman had a knife in her handbag when she was arrested, and a loaded handgun was found in the truck. The pick-up driver was booked into the Dane County Jail on possible charges of reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct while armed, illegally carrying a concealed weapon, and possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. The woman was jailed and booked for concealed weapons' possession and disorderly conduct.


Milwaukee Police say gang fights are partially to blame for a 16-percent increase in murders during the year that just ended. The state's largest city had 106 homicides in 2013, the most in eight years. The numbers of murders spiked in August and September, when 35 slayings took place -- about a third of the total for the year. Assistant Police Chief Kurt Leibold tells the Journal Sentinel that the gangs were not necessarily fighting over gang turf. He said most of the gang killings were caused by quote, "silly neighborhood disputes that erupted into violence." Police officials responded by creating a list of gang leaders and targets who knew what was going on -- even if they were not suspects. The F-B-I assisted in the effort, and Leibold said those people are slowly being taken quote, "out of the equation." Police Chief Ed Flynn said it helped the killings level off for the rest of the year. 


A possible trial is being pushed back two months for a Wausau woman accused of torturing-and-killing her ex-boyfriend's dog. 21-year-old Sean Janas was supposed to go on trial January 21st on three criminal charges, including fatal animal mistreatment. The defense asked that it be delayed, and Marathon County Circuit Judge Greg Grau has now set the four-day jury proceeding for March 17th in Wausau. Prosecutors said Janas poisoned a four-year-old German shepherd-Labrador mix in June of 2012 -- and police said she wrote a diary about how she would enjoy watching the dog suffer, and described how the pet could be poisoned. The defense tried to prevent the jury from seeing that key piece of evidence, but Judge Grau said no to that. He also refuse to move the trial out of central Wisconsin, due to the heavy publicity the case has attracted.