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Wisconsin roundup: Feds target 2 former Lincoln Hills guards; more state news stories

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Wisconsin has informed two former guards at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys they are targets of a federal investigation.

MADISON — The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Wisconsin has informed two former guards at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys they are targets of a federal investigation.

A grand jury will review the case behind closed doors Wednesday and make a determination on indictments. The guards’ names haven't been released.

This notice is the first indicator prosecutors are moving forward on potential charges in the three-year-old investigation of the use of excessive force at the juvenile prison. The incident at the center of the investigation happened in 2014 when a teenage prisoner's arm was injured while he was being brought under control.


Man arrested for putting dead rats, mice on school playground

EAU CLAIRE — A 37-year-old Eau Claire man has been charged with disorderly conduct for putting dead rats and mice on a school playground.

Damien Wagner was arrested and reportedly has admitted his actions on Oct. 23. Investigators say 18 dead rats and mice were found outside the Montessori School on Cameron Street in Eau Claire. An anonymous tip led police to interview Wagner. Wagner told police a friend has a rat and mouse infestation, so they trapped the animals. He says he put them on the playground as a joke.


Dells-area vacationers ousted by fire

LAKE DELTON — Guests at the Great Wolf Lodge in Lake Delton got an unexpected wake-up call early Sunday morning.

Fire broke out in one of the hotel rooms and hundreds of guests were evacuated shortly after 6 a.m. The building's sprinkler system confined the fire to just one room, but significant water damage was done in four more. Nobody was injured. The lodge reports 400 of its 435 rooms were registered to guests. Investigators don't think the origin of the fire was suspicious.


Anonymous donor drops $15K check in Merrill red kettle

MERRILL — The coordinator of the Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign calls it "a bit of Christmas Magic."

An anonymous donor slipped a $15,000 check into the kettle at Dave's Country Market in Merrill. Organizers say that could be the biggest kettle donation ever received by the Salvation Army in Merrill. The previous record for the biggest donation is thought to be $500. The Salvation Army had collected about $17,000 before getting the big check. This year's goal is $39,000.


Former EMT, cop charged with child-sexual assault

FRIENDSHIP — A 31-year-old former police officer and emergency medical technician faces two counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of 13.

Jacob Swiedarke was charged Wednesday in Adams County. He is accused of assaulting a 4-year-old girl in the town of Rome. Investigators say the attacks happened over a six-month period ending in April 2013. Swiedarke faces similar charges in Wood County involving the same victim. He's also accused of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 8 and 9, in his Port Edwards home in September. They say he paid them money after the assaults.


Group home employee accused of using choke-hold on resident

EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire group home employee is facing charges — accused of putting a resident in a chokehold.

The employee was charged with abusing a patient. The incident happened Wednesday night at the Bridge to Independence group home in Eau Claire. The criminal complaint says the employee got upset with a resident for not wanting to take his medication and put him in the chokehold. The employee told police he was just trying to protect himself from an out of control resident.


Promised road work for Foxconn could impact other state projects

MADISON — A memo from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau suggests converting local roads near the Foxconn factory in Racine County to state highways could impact other Wisconsin projects. The diverted money could total more than $130 million. Foxconn is already getting $3 billion in state tax credits, plus $764 million in local property tax incentives to build its new plant. LCDs will be made there by an estimated workforce of 13-thousand. Governor Scott Walker says the costs will be covered by savings from other projects in Wisconsin.


‘Obsessed’ man accused of damaging woman’s car

TOWN OF BROOKFIELD — Charges have been filed in Waukesha County against a 33-year-old man accused of puncturing the fuel line of a woman's car.

The victim says Michael P. Smith was a co-worker who became obsessed with her after she turned him down when he asked for a date. Smith is charged with criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct. Police say he admitted damaging the fuel line. She says she also found sharp objects under her tires in a Waukesha parking lot last August.