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$200 million deal closed during governor's trade trip; Milwaukee cop pleads no contest to strip searching men; more state news

Wisconsin's governor returned home from a trade mission Monday and already has a $200 million transaction completed.

Wisconsin-grown ginseng will be sold to one of China's largest medicine companies.

Gov. Scott Walker said the 10-day trip is already producing tangible results. There is said to be a second deal being worked on to sell animal feed products to a Chinese dairy company. That one could be as big as the ginseng deal.

Walker said there is a growing market for Wisconsin-made products like Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He said the trade mission could wind up being worth even more millions of dollars if it leads to more opportunities like these in the future.


Milwaukee cop pleads no contest to strip searching men

Former Milwaukee police officer Michael Vagnini won't have to register as a sex offender, but he is off the job.

Vagnini had faced 25 criminal charges in eight strip searches and cavity searches. He reached a plea agreement Monday, pleading no contest to four felonies and four misdemeanors.

The state will recommend the 34-year-old former officer get some prison time when he is sentenced June 21.

Prosecutors believe this plea deal will stop illegal police searches and stop the adult male victims from having to go through a trial. Vagnini is accused of conducting body cavity searches of men in his custody looking for drugs.

Three other officers charged in the case are scheduled to go to trial in June.

According to Wisconsin state law, only medical personnel are allowed to perform cavity searches and only after a search warrant is issued.

Vagnini pleaded no contest to four felony charges and four misdemeanors.


Wisconsin company moves half its jobs to Mexico

A Pewaukee company that makes electrical equipment says it is moving more than half of its jobs to Mexico.

Cooper Power Systems plans to cut 166 positions at its Wisconsin plant. That will leave fewer than 100 employees here.

A spokesman for the company said it is moving the production of molded rubber to a plant in Mexico starting next year. He said that new facility allows for a more efficient supply chain and reaction time for its markets in North America.

The job cuts are mostly in production, but they include 33 salaried positions.


Ryan urges modernization of immigration laws

Congressman Paul Ryan said the United States needs to modernize its immigration laws for the sake of our national security.

The Wisconsin Republican spoke in Chicago Monday. He said we don't know how to track individuals who overstay their visas.

If anything, he said, the fatal bombings at the Boston Marathon are an argument for modernizing the country's immigration laws. The two suspects were naturalized U.S. citizens from Chechnya.

Ryan said an immigration reform bill needs to accomplish five things - secure the borders, enforce laws currently on the books, create a workable legal system of immigration which includes a guest-worker program and give people a path to earn legalization.


Energy efficiency tactics saves school district $10 million

Officials with the Green Bay School District say it has saved about $10 million over the last 10 years by using energy-efficient light bulbs, turning off or dimming lights, keeping heating and cooling systems in good condition and avoiding the use of energy during peak times.

Other Wisconsin school districts are said to be using Green Bay's approach as a model. The system reportedly spends about 60 cents per square foot on energy in its high school buildings. Many districts spend more than $1 per square foot.


Lawmakers offer more safeguards for sexual assault victims

A vote could come as early as June on a bipartisan bill supporters say is aimed at protecting the victims of sexual assault.

State representatives Cory Mason of Racine and Thomas Weatherspoon of Caledonia say families living a nightmare shouldn't be traumatized again.

Robert Lambkin was charged with sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl in Racine. He lives next door to the victim and her family says she was traumatized when she saw him after he got out of jail.

If approved, the law wouldn't allow a person charged with sexual assault to come within 250 feet of the alleged victim.


$1 million bond set for man accused of homicide, taking body across state

A 26-year-old Wausau man is being held on a $1 million cash bond after a court appearance yesterday in Marathon County Circuit Court.

Kou Thao was arrested last Thursday. He has a preliminary hearing set for May 1. He is charged with first-degree intentional homicide, hiding a corpse and possession of a firearm as a felon.

Thao is accused of shooting Tong Pao Hang, 58, to death April 6, then dismembering his body.

Thao was arrested last week in Milwaukee. When he was arrested, Milwaukee police say they found body parts, a knife and a tarp.

Detectives say Thao admitted shooting the Minnesota man in Wausau and taking his body to Milwaukee.


Madison officers travel to Boston for memorial service

Two members of the UW-Madison Police Department have spent the last day on the road, driving to the Boston area to attend a memorial service honoring the MIT campus office killed after the Boston Marathon bombings.

Detective Pete Grimyser and Officer Juan Avila left yesterday at noon.

Officer Sean Collier, 26, was shot last Thursday night on the MIT campus in Cambridge by the bombing suspects.

Thousands of officers from all over the country are expected to attend tomorrow's service.


Three get prison terms in marijuana-farm case

Three men are headed to a federal prison for growing more than 2,000 marijuana plants in Wisconsin's Northwoods.

Maria Hilda Magana-Mendoza, Javier Magana and Marco Magana were sentenced Monday to prison terms ranging from three to five years. Two other defendants in the case were sentenced earlier this month.

Federal prosecutors charged the group of five last summer, saying they were growing more than 1,000 plants on two properties in the towns of Athelstane and Middle Inlet in Marinette County.


Leave baby animals alone, says DNR

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says if you spot an animal that looks like it needs help, you should call the agency and leave the wild animal alone.

DNR biologists say spring is the time when many animals give birth. It's possible you will see a baby animal which looks alone and vulnerable, but that may not be the case. The mother is likely to be not far off and watching over the baby.

Wisconsin state statutes prohibit the possession of wild animals without a license or permit. You can hold one for 24 hours, but that's only the time you're given to take it to a certified wildlife rehabilitator.