CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Darlington man sentenced to federal prison for producing child porn
A southwest Wisconsin man has been sentenced to 25 years in a federal prison for what authorities have called one of the state's largest child pornography cases ever. Investigators said they found several million child porn images last summer in numerous storage devices owned by 47-year-old Timmy Reichling of Darlington. He pleaded guilty in June to a federal charge of producing child porn. If he's still alive after he leaves prison, Reichling will have to spend his remaining years under federal supervision. He also faces eleven Lafayette County charges that include child porn possession and child sexploitation. The status of that case will be reviewed on September 24th. Prosecutors said Reichling posed as a teenage boy on Facebook, to get girls to send nude photos to him -- and he hid cameras in the homes of acquaintances. A 13-year-old girl went to authorities, saying that Reichling asked her to send him nude photos -- and when she wanted him to stop, he allegedly threatened to show the images to her family. Reichling spent about 15 years in prison for a sexual assault conviction in 1993. The judge in his federal case said it was a factor in his new term.
Wisconsin law enforcement has received over 28-million dollars in military equipment from the Pentagon since 2004. Gannett Wisconsin Media said 219 police agencies throughout the state have received things like mine-resistant trucks, assault rifles, grenade launchers, and night-vision goggles. It's all part of a program that began in 1990 -- and it's getting renewed scrutiny in the wake of the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri and its violent aftermath. This week, President Obama called for a tight separation of military and civilian forces. He said it might be time to review the program in which U-S law enforcement has received five-billion dollars in military gear since 1997. Milwaukee Police have acquired 600-thousand dollars in military items since 2004, including M-16 combat rifles. The Juneau County sheriff's department has obtained the most in the state, almost three-million dollars' worth. Officials there said rescue boats and night-vision goggles have been a big help. SWAT teams say they've found the mine-resistant trucks useful in tactical situations. However, the A-C-L-U says the events in Ferguson are triggering a public debate over whether all the gear is really needed. The program was started to help communities fight the war on drugs. Its use was broadened twice since then, most recently after the 9-11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
Two out-of-state travel companies have agreed to pay 50-thousand dollars to settle a state lawsuit, which alleged that customers were bilked out of money and promises of free airline tickets. The state Justice Department said Green Palm Vacations of Texas held sales presentations in Middleton in 2012 -- and Perfekt Marketing of Arizona sent postcards to lure people to those sessions. The state said people were promised airline tickets and gift cards -- and some never received them, even after paying up to 66-hundred dollars for club membership fees, taxes, and processing costs. The state said at least 87 people lost a total of 343-thousand dollars, and those people will get at least some of their losses back. The state's consumer protection division caught wind of the matter after an assistant state attorney general received one of the post cards.
A former head of the Wausau Area Builders Association has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly embezzling almost 170-thousand dollars. Forty-three year old Christopher Briquelet of Iola waived a preliminary hearing yesterday in Marathon County Circuit Court on 14 felony theft charges. He's scheduled to enter pleas on September fifth to those counts, plus two similar misdemeanors. Briquelet is accused of improperly writing numerous checks to himself, and making unauthorized purchases from the builders association's credit card from 2009-to-2012. He was let go in March of '12. The missing funds were discovered after some of the checks reportedly bounced. Authorities quoted Briquelet as saying he blamed alcohol and an addiction to Vicodin for what happened.
A coalition of media and open government groups has asked a federal appeals court to release 34 more documents from the John Doe probe into the state's recall elections. The court was planning to unseal the documents on Tuesday. That move was held up, after prosecutors and targets of the probe asked that all or some of the records remain secret. In a new brief filed yesterday, the media coalition said there's no compelling reason to keep the items secret anymore. The group called the John Doe a highly-publicized case that "goes to the heart of the public's right to observe the conduct of its prosecutors and the decisions of its courts." The investigation was halted by a federal judge in May, but prosecutors continue to appeal to try and revive it. The probe involves illegal campaign coordination between Governor Scott Walker, G-O-P state senators, and outside conservative groups in the recall elections from 2011-and-'12. The Republican Walker has denied wrongdoing. The Wisconsin Club for Growth and two unnamed parties say the 34 documents in question contain personal information and internal strategies that could damage the reputations of innocent people.
A Milwaukee man killed in front of a home he was fixing up was identified yesterday as 30-year-old Robert James Junior. Police said he was shot just before six Tuesday evening in a north side Milwaukee neighborhood. Other details have not been released -- including suspects and a possible motive.
A man shot by a Plover police officer on August 8th has been moved out of a hospital and into a jail cell. Investigators said 33-year-old Brett Lieberman of Manawa was carrying a knife as he charged toward an officer who stopped his vehicle for driving erratically. While he was in the hospital, he was charged with attempted homicide. Yesterday, Lieberman appeared on video at a bond hearing in Portage County Circuit Court where a judge set bail at 100-thousand dollars. He's due back in court September 2nd for a formal initial appearance. Plover Police officials said officer Andrew Hopfensperger acted justifiably in shooting the suspect. The State Justice Department has yet to give its opinion, as it continues to investigate.
A joint tribal-and-county drug court in far northern Wisconsin has received a federal grant of almost 900-thousand dollars. The Zaagiibagaa Healing-to-Wellness Court is run by Vilas County and the Lac du Flambeau Indian tribe. It helps certain drug suspects with chronic addiction problems get treatment instead of incarceration. The program has been running since June of last year. Defendants start their cases in Vilas County Circuit Court, and those who may quality for the program are later screened. If they get admitted, they meet once a week with a treatment team which monitors their progress. The three-year federal grant will provide more staffing and equipment for the wellness court. It was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration within the federal health agency.