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Lightning strike claims second Oconto County man; Milwaukee firm uncovered Russian cyber gang’s theft of email addresses; 11 more state news items

A second person has died from a lightning strike in northeast Wisconsin.

Oconto County authorities said Wednesday that Christopher Wold, 31, of Morgan died from his injuries. That was after Brad Cox, 27, of Abrams was found electrocuted at the scene Sunday.

Authorities said the two were building a treehouse for a youngster when heavy thunderstorms rolled through last Sunday night. Cox was found in the tree house, and Wold fell to the ground.


Milwaukee firm uncovered Russian cyber gang’s theft of email addresses

A suburban Milwaukee firm is the one that discovered that a Russian cyber gang stole 1.2 billion email addresses and password combinations.

Alexander Holden, the founder of Hold Security in Mequon, explained the scheme yesterday at the Black Hat cyber-security conference in Las Vegas.

It's not the first time that Holden and his company have uncovered a major security breach. Last October, they found that hackers remove encrypted credit card numbers and other personal information on almost three million users of Adobe Systems, which is best known for providing PDF files.

The New York Times broke the story of Hold Security's latest discovery Tuesday. This morning, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says Holden is getting heat for capitalizing on its discovery by introducing a new service to notify companies of data breaches.

The paper also says Holden's college credentials are in question. His LinkedIn page said he graduated from UW-Milwaukee with an engineering degree in 2001, but the school said he merely attended the school without graduating.

Holden cited a technical issue and a misunderstanding. He said would correct the information. The 39-year-old expert emigrated to Milwaukee from the former Soviet Union when he was 14.


Trooper’s wife apparently kills herself after stabbing him

No charges will be considered in a domestic incident in Janesville in which a woman wounded her husband and later killed herself.

Off-duty state trooper Carl Rowan is not considered a suspect in the shooting death of his wife Hollie, 31.

Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said the couple was arguing about a matter involving one of their two children when she stabbed her 32-year-old husband in the hand and stabbed herself in the arm. That prompted the trooper to call 9-1-1 around 3 a.m. Wednesday.

A dispatcher heard Hollie arguing in the background. Carl Rowan left the house and told officers that his wife might have a gun. She was found dead of a gunshot wound in her bedroom.

The trooper's injury needed eight stitches to fix.


Pit bull will be euthanized after it kills Chihuahua

WAUSAU -- A judge has ordered a pit bull to be euthanized after it ran out of a house in June, attacked a pedestrian and killed her Chihuahua.

The judge ruled that the dog was vicious, and owner must pay the cost of putting it down. The dog's owner was also cited for not having a dog license, vaccinations or a leash for the pit bull.

Cindy Ryder, 56, was walking her Chihuahua in downtown Wausau June 19 when the attack occurred. Ryder had several bite wounds, cuts and punctures.

Police at the time told the pit bull's owner to euthanize it or move it out of Wausau.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau


Budget cuts mean less money for TIF districts, less funding for streets, utilities

Wisconsin's latest round of tax cuts could make our state less open for business.

WSAU Radio in Wausau says local governments are getting less property tax money for tax incremental financing districts, which provide additional revenues for things like streets that directly serve new and growing businesses within those districts.

State Assembly Democrat Mandy Wright of Wausau says it's an unintended consequence from the tax cut bill passed in March, which used an extra $400 million from a state budget surplus to replace property tax payments for technical colleges.

The village of Weston, near Wausau, expects to lose $175,000 a year for streets and utilities which are designed to help business. Wausau itself expects to lose a little less at $164,000.

Wright voted against the tax cut package as did all legislative Democrats except for two in the Assembly.

But at least one Republican who voted for the measure is not happy either. Sen. Jerry Petrowski of Marathon said he likes the benefits for taxpayers, but he agrees the latest change is putting a squeeze on local governments. He said he'll ask the Legislative Audit Bureau to look into the matter and find out how many people and financing districts are affected statewide.

--Raymond Neupert, WSAU


Two men get prison terms for transporting heroin across state

Two men will spend time in a federal prison for moving heroin from Chicago to far northeast Wisconsin.

King, 55, of Chicago has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to distributing heroin. Donald Myers, 41, of Menominee, Mich., was sentenced to 21 months for making phone calls about the intent to distribute heroin. Both men had their cases settled with plea agreements.

They were among nine defendants charged with transporting heroin that King provided from Chicago to the Marinette-Menominee area.


Highground hosts three traveling memorials

For the first time, three traveling memorial walls will be on display together at the Highground Veterans Memorial in central Wisconsin. A bus trip is being organized from Wausau to help veterans see them.

The mini-version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington has been at the Highground several times. It will appear again next week along with the Canadian Vietnam memorial wall and the 9-11 Wall of Remembrance which is making its first stop in Wisconsin.

They'll all be at the Highground near Neillsville from next Wednesday through Sunday.

Area veterans' groups are also funding a free motor coach trip from Wausau a week from today. The Highground's Theresa Hebert said the ride will provide fellowship among vets as well as giving them a unique chance to see the three memorials together.

--Terry Pezl, WSAU, Wausau


Miles driven climbs by 400 million

If you think Wisconsinites don't love their cars anymore, you might be wrong as new state figures show that driving is on the upswing.

The Department of Transportation estimates that motorists drove 59.5 billion miles in the state last year -- about 400 million more miles than in 2012.

Officials say our growing population is one reason, along with higher commercial traffic as the economy continues to rebound from the Great Recession.

The travel estimates are based on statewide fuel consumption data, average vehicle gas mileage and traffic counts.

Officials said the average Wisconsinite traveled around 10,350 miles in a motor vehicle last year.

Lots of us were driving less during the recession. Advocacy groups said it was because younger Americans preferred alternatives like public transit and bike paths. Back then, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said Milwaukee area drivers had reduced their car use by 20% from 2006 through 2011. Madison had an 18% traffic drop during that time.


Trial of three Milwaukee cops accused of strip-searching man nears end

Attorneys are expected to make their closing arguments today in the trial of three Milwaukee police officers accused of violating a suspect's civil rights by strip-searching him.

Michael Gasser, Michael Valuch Jr. and Keith Garland Jr. testified yesterday that their actions were appropriate. They said they patted down Leo Hardy, 40, to look for weapons and illegal drugs, but the officers denied allegations that they pulled down his pants and grabbed his private area.

Garland admitted running what he called a "bladed hand" between Hardy's buttocks, but he said it was over the man's clothing.

Hardy was stopped because officers were looking for a person who was often seen with him.

He's among 60 people who claim they were subject to improper strip searches in Milwaukee from 2008 through 2012. Four former officers have been convicted in those cases.

The police chief or a supervisor must consent to the searches unless a weapon is suspected of being hidden. Cavity searches can only be done by medical personnel.


Wisconsin man guilty of threatening New Jersey judge, 27 officials

A Waukesha man has pleaded guilty to threatening a judge and 27 other officials in New Jersey.

Michael Rinderele, 29, struck a plea deal yesterday which could net him up to five years in prison and $600 in fines when he's sentenced in October.

Rinderele is part of the Sovereign Citizen movement, which claims its members are under no authority to follow federal, state and local laws. He admitted filing false liens against 28 officials in Voorhees and Winslow, N.J., to retaliate for his common-law wife being cited for illegal parking.


Mining issue resurrected in Oneida County

Two years ago, Oneida County ended its consideration of mining in far northern Wisconsin.

Now a committee wants to know if it's legal to hear a proposal from a company interested in exploring zinc and other minerals at a site near Tripoli.

The county's forestry panel voted 3-2 to ask the corporation counsel of it's proper to invite an engineer from Carolina Gold Resources to make a presentation.

Just the mere mention of the idea attracted a packed meeting room. It triggered an hour-long debate that brought back some of the emotions and issues -- many of which involved the county-owned site where the new proposal follows years of meetings over mining there.

The site is about a mile from the Willow Flowage in the town of Lynne.

Several mining opponents in the audience said the new proposal goes against the County Board's wishes from 2012. A couple of panel members said they should hear the company out. One mining opponent said the County Board missed opportunities to hear about the dangers of the practice, and he said an open public debate was cut off prematurely.

--Ken Krall, WXPR, Rhinelander


Legislative challengers support bill to let state nullify federal gun laws

Twenty challengers for Wisconsin legislative seats have told a Libertarian group they would support a bill to let the state nullify federal gun regulations.

The Campaign for Liberty, headed by Ron Paul, says on its Website that the bill would protect Wisconsinites from what it calls "unconstitutional federal infringements on their Second Amendment rights." It would let the state invoke its Tenth Amendment rights to nullify certain gun laws. Federal agents who try to enforce them would face unspecified penalties.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says it has become an issue in next week's Republican state Senate primary in Racine where Jonathan Steitz is running against former senator Van Wanggaard.

The paper said Steitz does not believe the measure could nullify existing federal laws, but he does believe in state's rights and avoiding what he called "federal overreach."

Wanggaard's camp said that candidate opposes further gun controls, but he does not believe in having the state nullify federal laws.

Two other GOP Senate candidates also told the Campaign for Liberty they'll support what the group calls the "Firearms Protection Act." Seventeen Wisconsin Assembly candidates, including two Democrats, did the same.


Development group invites companies to join foreign trade trip

Wisconsin's job creation agency is inviting businesses on a foreign trade mission this fall.

The state's Economic Development Corporation will lead a trip to the Czech Republic, Poland and Turkey Nov. 1-11.

Officials say companies could find new business opportunities in those countries in the fields of manufacturing, infrastructure, food, energy, aerospace and medical equipment.

The WEDC says it will provide briefings on each nation and would arrange one-on-one meetings for businesses to recruit foreign partners.

The registration deadline is Aug. 29. More information is available on the Economic Development Corporation's Website, accessible at