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Woman sent to jail but not prison for growing pot PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 22 March 2017 19:13

Saukville resident said she began cultivating crop for friends with cancer, epilepsy

A 46-year-old woman who said she began growing marijuana in her Town of Saukville yard to help friends suffering from cancer and epilepsy, then started using it herself, was spared prison but ordered Monday to serve four months in the county jail as a condition of probation.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams withheld a prison sentence and placed Heidi S. Johnson on probation for two years. In addition to time in jail, the conditions of Johnson’s probation include participating in drug and alcohol counseling if deemed necessary, maintaining absolute sobriety and undergoing random drug testing.

Johnson, who was arrested in September after authorities received tips via text messages that she was growing marijuana in her yard off Highway Y, pleaded guilty in February to manufacturing/delivering marijuana, a felony punishable by a maximum three years in prison and three years of extended supervision.

An additional felony, maintaining a drug trafficking place, and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia were dismissed as part of a plea agreement but read into the record, which allowed the judge to consider them for the purposes of sentencing.

“She wasn’t growing large amounts of marijuana to sell. I don’t think she was part of the drug culture,” Johnson’s lawyer, Benjamin Lutgen, said during the March 20 sentencing hearing. “She started this to help some friends and it ballooned into garbage bags of marijuana.”

But District Attorney Adam Gerol said he is skeptical of Johnson’s seemingly altruistic motivation for cultivating a marijuana crop and doesn’t subscribe to the idea that because this case involved marijuana it is less serious than other drug cases.

“This is a serious crime,” he said. “I refuse to buy into the argument I hear more and more today that marijuana (crimes) are a lesser variety of crime.”

Gerol noted that 11 plants and more than five pounds of marijuana were found on Johnson’s property.

“It took two brown paper grocery bags to secure and haul it away,” he said. 

Gerol recommended a withheld prison sentence but argued that time in jail is a necessary punishment.

Williams agreed.

“You don’t want to be labelled a drug dealer by saying it was for personal use, but you were growing it to give to others,” the judge told Johnson. “You’re involved in that culture. I think you want to justify your actions by saying it was for someone who was sick.”

Johnson and her lawyer argued against jail time, saying that if there is a need for punishment, it had already been satisfied by the consequences of a felony conviction.

Johnson, who is married and has three children, said she can no longer be a firefighter and EMT or continue to help the various organizations she has been involved with over the last 13 years because of her conviction.

“I can’t volunteer any more,” she said. “I’ve done that for 13 years. It was something I was so proud of.

Lutgen said Johnson, who had no criminal record prior to this, enrolled in substance abuse treatment immediately after being arrested and is now in counseling. 

“She realized she made a huge mistake,” he said. “She recognizes she has a problem with substance abuse. She was in the news. She’s very embarrassed. Now she’s known as a marijuana grower.”

After receiving two text message tips, one of which included photos of marijuana growing on the land on the far north end of the town, authorities searched Johnson’s property on Sept. 30.

Some of the 11 marijuana plants found on the property were growing behind a shed and in pots on the back porch. Others had been harvested and were drying in a shed, the criminal complaint states.

The marijuana from the plants drying in the shed weighed more than 5 pounds, according to the complaint.

In the house, authorities found marijuana and marijuana seeds in Mason jars, zip-close bags and a shoebox. They also discovered a digital scale, cigarette roller and marijuana grinder, the complaint states.Daily Press

 
Man accused of robbery in beer scuffle pleads to lesser charge PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 17:47

Underage port residenet was trying to buy brew when struggle with clerk ensued

A Port Washington man charged in January with attempted robbery for trying to wrestle a case of beer from a convenience store clerk has pleaded guilty to less serious crimes.

William G. Breen, 20, was sentenced by Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams last month to four months in jail after pleading guilty to attempted retail theft, a misdemeanor.

Breen also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of retail theft and disorderly conduct. Williams sentenced him to six months in the county jail for those crimes, but stayed the sentence, which means he will not have to serve the time if he completes three years of probation.

According to the criminal complaint filed in Ozaukee County Circuit Court, an employee of Mad Max South, 1100 S. Spring St., Port Washington, told police that shortly after 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 20, Breen, who was 19 at the time, came into the store and tried to buy a bottle of liquor.

The clerk said she refused to sell the liquor to Breen because state law prohibits alcohol sales after 9 p.m.

Breen hung around the store for about 30 minutes, she said, then asked if he could buy a case of beer. The clerk said she agreed and took his money, but after looking at his driver’s licence and realizing he was younger than 21, took the beer away from him and placed it behind some displays.

The clerk said she was in the process of refunding Breen’s money when he grabbed the case of beer. She also grabbed the case and a struggle ensued, causing a display case filled with mini liquor bottles to be knocked over. 

Breen then let go of the case, grabbed several mini liquor bottles and ran from the store, according to the complaint.

When questioned by police, Breen admitted to trying to take the case of beer and stealing two mini bottles of Captain Morgan rum, the complaint states.

Breen became angry while being taken to jail and said he wanted to punch and kick the clerk, according to the complaint.

As conditions of his probation, Williams ordered Breen to maintain absolute sobriety, have no contact with the convenience store or the clerk he struggled with and undergo a psychological exam. He must also earn a high school equivalency diploma and/or maintain full-time employment.Daily Press

 
Woman gets 16 months in jail for rash of crimes PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Bill Schanen IV   
Wednesday, 15 March 2017 17:17

Saukville resident pleads guilty to charges that include child neglect, OWI

A 31-year-old Saukville woman who racked up 11 criminal charges, including child neglect and spitting on a police officer, during a 10-month period beginning in December 2015 was sentenced last week to 16 months in the Ozaukee County jail.

Lisa M. Dulong, a former Fredonia resident, pleaded guilty March 8 to third-offense operating while intoxicated with a child in the car, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and four counts of bail jumping, as well as the child neglect and spitting on an officer charges. Three other charges were dismissed.

The charges were filed in four separate complaints between December 2015 and March 2017.

In addition to ordering her to serve time in jail, Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy sentenced Dulong to 1-1/2 years in prison and two years of extended supervision for her most serious crime — spitting on an officer — but stayed the punishment, which means that if she completes three years of probation she will not have to serve the time.

Dulong’s troubles with the law began on Dec. 19, 2015, when she was arrested for hitting and kicking the father of her son in the parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant in Fredonia, where they had met to exchange custody of the boy, according to the criminal complaint.

Dulong was charged with disorderly conduct-domestic abuse and released in lieu of a $500 signature bond.

About a month later, on Jan. 15, 2016, Dulong was arrested again after a Grafton gas station employee called police to report that Dulong was passed out in a car parked at the station with a screaming child in the back seat, the complaint states.

The employee told police that she noticed Dulong’s car parked at a gas pump at about 10:40 p.m., and when she and a coworker approached the car and knocked on the window, Dulong sat up momentarily but then slumped over again.

An officer who arrived about 30 minutes later pounded on the window of the car but could not wake Dulong. He then unlocked the door and tried rousing Dulong, who woke up only momentarily before falling back asleep. 

The officer said Dulong’s 4-year-old son was awake in the back seat. The temperature at the time was about 29 degrees.

A preliminary blood alcohol test revealed no alcohol in Dulong’s system, but the officer found a bottle of the anti-anxiety medication alprazolam while searching her belongings. The prescription for 90 pills had been filled the day before, but only 24 pills were in the bottle, according to the complaint.

Dulong was initially charged with misdemeanor crimes and her bail was set at $5,000. She spent about a month-and-a-half in jail before her bail was reduced to $1,000, which she posted on March 3, 2016. An additional charge of third-offense operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a child in the car, a felony, was filed later.

Just more than two months later, a sheriff’s deputy responding to a report of a car in a ditch off Highway A in the Town of Fredonia found Dulong asleep in the vehicle at about 5:30 a.m.

When confronted by the deputy, who had to knock on the car window to wake Dulong up and said he could smell alcohol, Dulong admitted to drinking, which was prohibited by the conditions of her bail, the criminal complaint states.

Dulong denied she was the driver of the vehicle but refused to say who was.

Dulong, who according to a preliminary test had a blood alcohol level of 0.03, below the 0.08 threshold for intoxication, was charged with bail jumping. Her bail was set at $350.

With three cases pending against her, Dulong was arrested again on Oct. 13 after a man said he saw her hit a parked car near Quade Park in Saukville, then drive away, according to the criminal complaint.

The man called police and followed Dulong to the employee entrance of Charter Steel, where a police officer stopped her.

The officer noticed Dulong’s car had significant front-end damage and the air bags had deployed, although Dulong said it had happened about a week earlier.

The officer, who noted Dulong smelled of alcohol, said she resisted arrest and spit on him and inside his squad car. 

As he was taking Dulong to a nearby hospital, the officer said, she launched into an expletive laced tirade directed at him. At one point she said, “I’m going to get out and find you all. I know your last name. My friends know where you live and it’s all good.... You ever been raped...?” according to the complaint.

Officers found unidentified pills in Dulong’s purse and a bottle of vodka and Dr. Green’s Agent X Fake Pee in her car.

Dulong was charged on Oct. 14 with six crimes, including three counts of bail jumping. Her bail was set at $25,000 and increased to $5,000 in each of the three other pending cases. She has been in jail since then.Daily Press

 
Port candidates to tackle issues at forum PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 08 March 2017 19:25

A visioning and candidate forum for aldermanic candidates in the City of Port Washington will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 25.

The forum will be in the Lakeview Community Room in the former Wilson House at the corner of Main and Franklin streets in downtown Port.

The forum, organized by a group of Port residents, is intended as an opportunity for residents to discuss issues and share their visions of the city’s future with the candidates.

It’s also a chance for the candidates to meet residents.

There are two contested races in the  April 4 aldermanic election — in the 3rd District, where newcomers Michael Gasper and Don Cosentine will face off, and the 7th District, where incumbent Ald. Dan Becker and John Sigwart, a former city engineer, will compete.

Ald. Mike Ehrlich is running uncontested for the city’s 1st District seat.

In the 5th District, incumbent Ald. Kevin Rudser is not seeking re-election and newcomer Jonathan Pleitner, a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Board, is the lone candidate on the ballot.Daily Press

 
Trump’s budget may endanger marine sanctuary PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Kristyn Halbig Ziehm   
Wednesday, 08 March 2017 19:22

Port mayor says public support for NOAA preserve particularly important with president’s budget looming

Port Washington Mayor Tom Mlada on Tuesday asked area residents to ramp up their support for a proposed Lake Michigan shipwreck sanctuary, saying it’s more important now than ever because President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget would significantly cut the budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

“We don’t know how that would potentially flow through to the Great Lakes fund or NOAA,” Mlada said, noting the budget proposal would slash funding for NOAA by 18%. “Clearly, I think there is some degree of concern with the potential cuts.

“Now is the time to let your voices be heard. This is something that’s simply too important. We have to push this down the field and into the end zone.”

Mlada said he is hoping for a good turnout at a public meeting on the sanctuary proposal  from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 16, in the Lakeview Community Room in the former Wilson House in downtown Port.

Public comments on the sanctuary’s draft environmental impact statement and management plans will be taken at the meeting, with input sought on everything from whether people support the overall concept of a sanctuary to the borders of the proposed sanctuary — there are two alternatives, the original three-county plan and one that includes the waters off Kewaunee County.

Mlada and other officials have long touted the impact a national sanctuary could have on the area, in terms of education, tourism and community vitality.

That would especially be true if the sanctuary is approved — something expected by late 2017 or early 2018 — and NOAA decides  where to locate its headquarters. 

The only other Great Lakes sanctuary, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Mich., draws thousands of people annually to the community.

Mlada noted that an estimated 100,000 people visit Alpena annually, and the impact is significant.

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism estimates that a visitor spends $60 every day at his destination, Mlada said — funds that could help area businesses survive.

He also noted that Alpena had one hotel before the Thunder Bay sanctuary was created, and now it has three.

The proposed three-county Lake Michigan sanctuary — NOAA’s preferred option — includes 37 known wrecks, and officials believe there could be as many as 80 others waiting to be discovered. Fifteen of these vessels are preserved virtually intact, officials said, adding 18 of the known wrecks are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ten of the known shipwrecks are in the waters off Ozaukee County, with as many as 11 undiscovered wrecks believed to be off the county’s shore.

Public comments on the proposed Lake Michigan sanctuary are being accepted through March 31.

“This is our opportunity to weigh in,” Mlada said. “We need to do all we can locally to make sure our voices are heard. I don’t think we’re sounding alarm bells, but there is a sense of urgency.”

Ald. Dan Becker concurred, saying, “This is vitally important. There’s an environmental benefit. There’s a recreational benefit with the diving that would be done. There’s obviously a tourism benefit.”

The draft plans for the Lake Michigan sanctuary may be found at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wisconsin/wisconsin-proposed-deis-dmp.pdf.

Comments should be sent to Russ Green, NOAA’s regional coordinator for the Lake Michigan sanctuary,  at the University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, 1 University Dr., Sheboygan 53081.

They may also be emailed via the website www.regulations.gov and referencing the docket number NOAA-NOS-2016-0150.Daily Press

 
Shared-ride taxi service participation tops record PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Mitch Maersch   
Wednesday, 01 March 2017 19:08

With service attracting more than 113,000 patrons, county plans to add stops

Participation in Ozaukee County’s shared-ride taxi service reached a record high in 2016, and three more stops in Milwaukee County are being added.

Ridership reached 113,569 last year, a 4% increase from 2015 and a 52% leap from 2010, which had nearly 75,000 riders.

Three-fourths of riders using the service are elderly or disabled, County Public Works Director Jon Edgren told the Public Works Committee last month.

Billed service hours in 2016 increased by 5%, but total costs only went up 2.7% and net costs just .73%, according to a report to the committee.

The service got its highest fare box recovery ever, and buying fuel in bulk set the price per gallon at $1.75, Transit Supt. Jason Wittek said.

The county pays the state fuel tax but not sales tax, Edgren said.

Fuel efficiency reached a record in 2016, with the service getting 14.05 miles per gallon, up from 12.9 in 2015. Fuel cost was down by nearly $40,000.

Some of the savings is due to newer, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Since 2015, the county replaced six Crown Victorias that got 19 miles per gallon with six hybrid vehicles that get 52 mpg.

Nearly 15,000 gallons of fuel totaling $25,000 was saved in 2016 due to fleet upgrades the past three years, according to a report to the committee from Wittek.

The service this year is replacing four of its vehicles and adding two hybrid cars to bring the fleet to 28 vehicles.

Three wheelchair-accessible mini-buses are being replaced, along with one rear-load wheelchair-accessible mini-van, which replaces a wheelchair-accessible mini-bus.

The old mini-bus gets nine miles per gallon while the new mini-van gets 25. Total cost for the vehicles is $240,000. Ozaukee County Transit Service has $275,000 in this year’s budget for vehicle replacements, the report said.

Ridership is continuing to climb. Wittek said that January had 10,218 riders, the biggest month in history of the taxi service. Ridership in January 2016 was 9,448 and the high for the year was 9,968 in March.

Numbers were aided by three additional stops in Milwaukee County this year.

The committee approved the boundary changes after a yearlong study with input from businesses, nonprofit agencies, education organizations and other governmental agencies.

In addition, the committee expanded the service by one hour from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays to accommodate second and third-shift workers.

The shared-ride taxi service could be merged with Washington County’s service, County Administrator Tom Meaux said.

The counties last year merged their public health departments.

The county’s express bus service had 80,601 riders in 2016, up 5% from 2015, but its third-lowest total since 1998.

Billed service hours and total costs were both down 1%, while net costs fell by 2%.

Wittek said the goal is to keep making the bus more attractive for casual riders. From Cedarburg, the bus can get to downtown Milwaukee in 22 minutes.

“That’s a pretty good deal,” Wittek said.

Summerfest ridership, with stops in Saukville and Grafton, returned to a normal level after bus drivers went on strike from July 1 to 3 in 2015. Ridership was 25,872 in 2016, up from 15,558 in 2015.

In 2014, the county started using Milwaukee County Transit Service buses exclusively to save on capital replacement costs.

For taxi and bus rates and more information, go to www.ozaukeetransit.com.Daily Press

 
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