River Falls couple accused of revenge plot to murder cops, judge

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DATCP warns of court-case scam; 14-year-old suspected of killing Ashland man; More state news

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'Twas the week before Christmas, and all through Wisconsin, con artists continue to stir.

In the latest rip-off, a caller says you may be a respondent in a court case and you might have your wages garnished if you don't press a key on your phone, talk to a litigator and presumably pay a settlement.

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Sandy Chalmers of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says the calls can be downright frightening, but it's really a new twist on an old con job.

Chalmers said the callers never say who they are, and no legitimate business would ever contact you in such a manner. Chalmers said you should never hit any keys during a phone call and never talk to a live person in that situation.

Even if you don't give up money right away, Chalmers says scammers could sell your number to other crooks who might see you as easy prey. If you call anybody, she said to call the DATCP’s helpline.

--Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau

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14-year-old suspected of killing Ashland man

A 14-year-old boy is being held for the suspected murder of a 52-year-old man in Ashland.

William Saari died at his home on Monday night. He was still alive when police and rescuers arrived at the house, but they couldn't save him.

Police said the youngster is in an undisclosed Wisconsin detention facility. They did not say how the youngster was connected to the victim, and for now, they're not saying the type of weapon that may have been used.

Ashland Police Captain James Gregoire said his officers are confident that the 14-year-old was responsible for Saari's death, but it would take a while to sort out the evidence.

Counselors were made available yesterday for Ashland school students and staffers who needed help coming to grips with the incident.

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‘Unintimidated’ sales top 7,000 in a week

Gov. Scott Walker's new book has sold at least 7,200 hard copies.

The Nielsen Company announced sales figures yesterday for "Unintimidated," which first hit the stores a month ago tomorrow. Nielsen's figures are said to be around 85% of all print sales, with no numbers for electronic editions.

The book's publisher, Sentinel of the Penguin Group, does not release sales figures for its products. However, company spokeswoman Jacquelynn Burke said Walker's book is selling consistently well so far.

The Republican governor says he's not sure how sales are going, but as long as his publisher is happy, so is he.

Media reports said Walker's book sales are about on par with former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty's memoir, which he published while he was considering a run for president.

Walker is also being considered a possible candidate for the White House in 2016. He said he wrote the book to chronicle his first two years as governor, which featured massive demonstrations over his bill to end most collective bargaining for public employee unions.

Walker has not said how much he was paid in advance for the book. He said the figure will come out next month when he files his next campaign finance report.

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Nekoosa man accused of stabbing sister’s kitten to death

A central Wisconsin man is due in court Jan. 13 on charges that he broke into his sister's house and stabbed her pet kitten to death.

Brian Sentkowski, 25, of Nekoosa is charged with felony fatal animal mistreatment and misdemeanor trespassing.

According to Wood County prosecutors, Sentkowski said he was intoxicated when he went to his sister's house Nov. 27 and was upset that nobody was home. He was also reportedly upset about his own drinking, and he claimed to take his anger out on the first thing he saw -- the kitten. Authorities said he stabbed the pet and dumped the body in a nearby ditch.

Online court records show that Sentkowski was charged in October with his second drunk driving incident. He also faces a Wood County citation for possessing drug paraphernalia. Trials in both those cases are set for Jan. 29.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau

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Man dies as car slides across snowy road into semi

At least one death is blamed on the new snow in Wisconsin this week.

Fond du Lac County authorities said a 27-year-old man was killed yesterday afternoon when his car slid across a centerline and hit a semi-truck on a snow-covered Hwy. 44 near Rosendale.

The car driver died at the scene. His name was not immediately released. The semi-truck driver escaped injury.

Virtually all of Wisconsin received at least some new snow on Monday and or yesterday. Springbrook in Washburn County had most with 5.2 inches. Other places had between one and 3.5 inches.

Several quick bursts of snow over the past week have left some sizable snow depths in the northern half of the state. Upson and Phillips each have 14 inches on the ground. The Green Bay area has 11 inches. Marshfield has 10 inches.

Forecasters say we'll have at least one day of dry weather before the next storm system moves in tomorrow when there's a chance of light snow and freezing rain. Highs are generally expected in the 20's with a slight cool-down on the weekend.

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Walker hopes John Doe probe will end soon

Gov. Scott Walker is doing his annual one-on-one interviews with State Capitol reporters -- and they've produced a few nuggets of interesting news.

One involves the secret John Doe probe into allegations that Walker's campaign illegally coordinated its 2012 recall election campaign with outside conservative groups. Walker told the AP he hopes the investigation ends soon. Otherwise, "It's like trying to have a discussion with both hands tied behind your back."

The governor refused to say whether he has met with investigators or opened a new legal defense fund.

Also, Walker told WTMJ TV in Milwaukee that his office will hire outside advisers as early as next week to help him decide whether to approve the proposed Menominee Tribe Hard Rock Casino in Kenosha. A decision is still a few months away.

The governor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he'll either sign or veto the bill which makes it easier for public schools to keep their Indian team names and logos. If there's no action by tomorrow, the bill will automatically take effect.  Walker hinted that he would sign it.

Also, he told AP that his New Year's resolutions are to exercise more, eat healthier and spend more time with his family despite the pressures of his reelection campaign for next fall.

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Man accused of arson for trying to burn former home

A Fond du Lac man is being held under an $850,000 bond after he had a court appearance yesterday for a house fire and shooting at police during a standoff.

Shannon Rogler, 40, was on a video hook-up from his jail cell on charges of attempted homicide, burglary, arson and failing to comply with an officer while in custody.

Prosecutors said Rogler started his former house on fire Dec. 9 and then held police at bay at his apartment where over two dozen shots were fired before he surrendered.

Officials said two armor-piercing bullets came from a .50-caliber weapon -- one of a number of guns that officers found in the apartment. Nobody was hurt, although police said three nearby houses were struck by the gunfire.

Rogler is due back in court Jan. 16 when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence to order a trial.

A cousin, Jim Lueck, told the Fond du Lac Reporter that Rogler was depressed and intended to kill himself and he had no intention of killing police officers. Lueck said Rogler was depressed because he lost his parents and a grandparent, his old home was foreclosed upon, and his girlfriend started seeing another man.

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Wisconsinites spotting influx of snowy owls

Wisconsin is attracting more snowy owls from Canada this winter.

The Department of Natural Resources says about 55 snowy owls have been spotted throughout the state as of Dec. 8. That's way up from the 30 to 35 owls seen at this time last year.

Researchers say Wisconsin is on the western edge of a large irruption of snowy owls that stretches to the Atlantic coast. We don't know why it's happening.

The DNR says it's possible that a large supply of lemmings -- the owls' favorite prey -- is causing many young owls to go south into Wisconsin to find food in their own territories. It's also speculated that lemming populations are low in Canada, and owls are forced to fly south to find their food.

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Reports says new bishop destroyed psychological reports

An official of the Green Bay Catholic Diocese was named yesterday as the new bishop for Upper Michigan, despite a previous admission that he destroyed records in sex abuse cases.

Pope Francis chose Father John Doerfler as the new church leader for the Diocese of Marquette, Mich. He'll be installed early next year.

The 49-year-old Doerfler is the vicar general of the Green Bay Diocese. He's a native of Appleton.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's website posted a deposition that Doerfler gave two years ago in a lawsuit involving convicted pedophile and former Fox Valley priest John Patrick Feeney. In his sworn statement, Doerfler said he destroyed psychological reports of alleged child-molesting priests, except for cases in which claims were pending at the time. He said it was part of a record-retention policy adopted by former Green Bay Bishop David Zubik.

It was not immediately known whether the Vatican knew about Doerfler's deposition. Peter Isley of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests criticized Doerfler's appointment and called it "really perplexing."

Current Green Bay Bishop David Ricken called Doerfler a "trusted adviser" on moral and canon-related issues. Doerfler was ordained in 1991 in Green Bay.

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Longest-serving elected official in state’s history dies

Funeral services are planned this weekend for the longest-serving elected official in Wisconsin history.

Joe Ready, 95, of Watertown died last weekend. He served for 78 years in local government -- just over two decades on the Watertown City Council and 57 years on the Dodge County Board until he retired about a year and a half ago.

Dodge County Clerk Karen Gibson said Ready only missed one or two meetings during his almost six decades as a county supervisor.

In 2007 Ready was honored by the Wisconsin Counties Association for his long service. At the time, he said dedication was the key to his longevity.

When people think of longevity, many think of state Senate Democrat Fred Risser, who continues as the nation's longest-serving state lawmaker in his 57th year. But compared to Ready, Risser is a relative pup at age 86.

Funeral arrangements for Joe Ready are pending at the Hafemeister Funeral Home in Watertown.

--Craig Warmbold, WBEV-WXRO, Beaver Dam

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Judy Wiff
Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.
(715) 426-1049
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