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Man gets probation, jail for growing pot

November 07, 2013
A 33-year-old Walworth man was sentenced to jail and probation after he was arrested for growing marijuana. Shaun E. Hillary, 104 Webber St. Apt. 6B, plead guilty to manufacturing THC, in an amount greater than 2,500 grams. Additional felony charges of maintaining a drug trafficking place and substantial battery were dismissed but read into the record.
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Former bank branch manager faces theft charges

November 07, 2013

ELKHORN — A former bank branch manager is accused of stealing more than $150,000 from Delavan’s Guaranty Bank.
Jessica A. Pfeifer, 32, Clinton, has been charged with theft from a financial institution in an amount greater than $100,000. She also faces 26 counts of felony identity theft. Each count carries a maximum penalty of six years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.
Pfeifer is free from custody on a surety bond, which was co-signed by her husband and her father. She also was required to post $2,000 in cash.
According to the criminal complaint:
Dwayne Rogers, the assistant vice president, corporate investigations for Guaranty Bank, received a complaint from a former customer.
Through an investigation, Rogers learned that Pfeifer had taken money from this customer’s bank account. As he continued his investigation, Rogers learned that Pfeifer had been performing unauthorized withdrawals from other customer accounts.
Rogers met with Pfeifer in July to question her about the transactions. One customer reported that $20,500 had been removed from her bank account.
Rogers was able to determine that Pfeifer was the teller that made the withdrawal. After the withdrawal was made, a cashier’s check in the amount of $20,500 was deposited into the customer’s account.
During an interview with Rogers on June 17, Pfeifer said that she stole money from the bank to pay bills, buy grocceries and cover the costs of other expenses. She told Rogers that she took the money from the bank by hiding it on her person or by putting it into FedEx envelopes. Pfeifer also told Rogers that she didn’t have any of the money and had spent it all. Bank auditors reviewed all the transactions and reported a loss of more than $150,000.

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Man back in court for 12th OWI charge

November 07, 2013

ELKHORN — A 71-year-old man who was arrested in August 2012, for what is allegedly his 12th drunken driving offense, is back in the Walworth County jail after he missed a court appearance back in February.
Fred J. Schnedier, Zion, Ill., was arrested in Bloomfield for drunken driving after he went to PFI Fashions, which is north of Genoa City on County Highway B, to use the restroom. Employees called police because they suspected Schneider was drunk and feared he would hurt someone if he continued to drive.
Schneider faces a felony charge of 12th-offense drunken driving. If convicted, he faces up to 7 1/2 years imprisonment and five years of extended supervision. He plead not guilty to the charge Sept. 12, 2012.
Schneider also faces felony and misdemeanor bail jumping charges. If convicted of the felony charge, he faces up to six years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines.
Schneider is currently in custody in the Walworth County jail on a $5,000 cash bond.
According to court records:
When Schneider entered PFI Fashions, he wasn’t wearing a shirt and asked to use the restroom.
Two employees escorted him to the restroom, and when Schneider was in the restroom one of the employees called the Genoa City and Bloomfield police.
While waiting for police, a manager distracted Schneider by showing him shirts and the manager gave Schneider a shirt to wear.
Schneider attempted to pay for the shirt with playing cards he had in his wallet.
When Genoa City Sgt. Mike Sireno arrived, Schneider told him he believed he was in Winthrop Harbor, Ill., which is about 30 miles east of Genoa City.
Schneider became agitated by police questions.
He told police that his girlfriend had driven him to PFI Fashions, and she left in a taxi. However, an employee saw Schneider pull up to the store and exit the vehicle by himself.
Schneider kept moving his head during the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which is a field test for intoxication. During the test, the driver must follow a pen with his or her eyes without moving his or her head.
When asked not to move his head, Schneider yelled at the officer and stumbled backwards. He then told the officer he wouldn’t take any more tests. Schneider was then arrested.
The first record check police ran showed that Schneider had six prior drunken driving convictions. At the Walworth County jail, another OWI was discovered on his record.
By the time charges were filed, law enforcement found one more drunken driving conviction and he was charged with his ninth-offense.
In January, prosecutors amended the charge to 12th offense drunken driving after three additional convictions were discovered.

After the arrest
After Schneider’s arrest, Judge John Race set a $10,000 bond for his release, which included a $5,000 cash component. Schneider posted a $5,000 cash bond on December 20 and was released. According to online court records, Schneider changed his address with the court but didn’t appear before a judge again.
Before Schneider posted bond, his attorney, Melissa Nepomiachi, filed a motion to reduce his bond. In the motion, Nepomiachi wrote that Schneider is a U.S. Air Force veteran and is receiving treatment four days a week at a VA hospital. Schneider is a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Schneider’s 11 prior convictions are for offenses that occurred March 1, 1991; May 8, 1991; Sept. 14, 1994; Oct. 21, 1994; Jan. 24, 1996; Feb. 4, 1997; Feb. 4, 1998; March 26, 1999; April 2, 1999; Nov. 5, 2000 and March 3, 2001.
Four of the prior convictions were for offenses that occurred in Wisconsin, two are from Illinois and five are from Minnesota.


Recent Crime
Man gets probation for tavern burglaries
October 31, 2013
ELKHORN — A convicted burglar, who broke into taverns in Genoa City and Lake Como, avoided a prison sentence after his defense attorney reached an agreement with prosecutors.Kory L. Myerson, 23, Harvard, was sentenced Oct. 24 to six years of probation, which includes 150 days in jail with work-release privileges. As a condition of his probation, Myerson must pay more than $32,000 in restitution.“Mr. Myerson, it looks as though you are getting a second chance,” Judge David Reddy said. “You need to realize this is probably your last chance. If you get in trouble like this again, prison is probably the only option.”
Man faces three felonies after crash that killed a mom
October 24, 2013
ELKORN — A mother was killed and her child was injured when a Whitewater man, who was allegedly driving drunk at more than 90 mph, crashed into their SUV on Highway 89 in the town of Whitewater.On Oct. 16 the Walworth County District Attorney’s Office filed three felony charges against Craig M. Seefeldt, 50.He has been charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, second-degree reckless homicide and operating while intoxicated causing injury, as a second and subsequent offense.Melissa J. Patrick, 40, Whitewater, was killed as a result of the crash and her 14-year-old daughter was injured.Seefeldt is being held in the Walworth County jail in lieu of a $50,000 cash bond.According to the criminal complaint:On Oct. 13, a Walworth County Sheriff’s Department deputy responded to a report of a crash on Highway 89 near Island Road in the town of Whitewater.The deputy saw a Chevy Malibu parked, facing south in the northbound lane, with severe front end damage.The deputy spoke to the child, who was in the SUV.The girl told the deputy that her mother, Patrick, was driving and turning into her father’s driveway when a car hit them from behind.The girl had cuts on her face and said her legs hurt.The impact of the crash caused the SUV to flip over into the ditch. Patrick was ejected from the vehicle and was pinned underneath it.She died at the scene.When the deputy questioned Seefeldt, Seefeldt said he didn’t know what had happened.Seefeldt told the deputy that he was driving down the road when his airbags deployed.He also said another car hit him, and that car must have been coming from another direction. The deputy smelled alcohol on Seefeldt’s breath and saw that Seefeldt’s eyes were glassy and he was having difficulty keeping his balance.Seefeldt said he drank three beers that day and was driving to a friend’s home.The deputy performed field sobriety tests on Seefeldt, which Seefeldt failed. A portable Breathalyzer test indicated that Seefeldt’s blood alcohol level was 0.2 percent, which is 2.5 times higher than the legal limit of 0.08 percent.Seefeldt was transferred to Aurora Lakeland Medical Center for a blood draw.Initially, Seefeldt refused the blood draw. However, deputies had a warrant to take his blood, and, after several additional deputies arrived, Seefeldt allowed the blood draw.Precrash data reports indicate that just seconds before the crash Seefeldt was driving at 91 mph.The speed limit is 55 mph at that location on Highway 89. Prior to impact, Seefeldt’s vehicle was traveling at 63 mph, according to the report.A deputy at the crash noted that despite the damage to Patrick’s SUV, the turn signal was still blinking.
Did Waterford man commit perjury?
October 24, 2013
ELKHORN — A 67-year-old Waterford man faces two felony perjury charges after he allegedly falsely testified during his own criminal proceedings. If convicted, Haesi Heribert Fanizius faces up to 12 years imprisonment and $20,000 in fines. On Jan. 7, Fanizius pleaded guilty to a felony charge of identity theft for a case that was filed in November 2010. In that case, Fanizius is accused of using his son’s Social Security number for employment purposes and to open a bank account.
Man allegedly steals car at gas station
October 24, 2013

ELKHORN — A convicted felon allegedly stole a vehicle from the Lyons Mobil Station as the car’s owner was inside shopping.
Richard D. Martinson, 47, faces a felony charge of operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent and a misdemeanor charge of resisting an officer. Both charges have been elevated to repeater status.
If convicted of both counts, Martinson faces up to 12 years imprisonment and $20,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Sept. 4 a deputy went to the gas station for a report of a vehicle theft that had just occurred. The gas station clerk told the deputy that a man, who was later identified as Martinson, had been hanging around the gas station for a few hours.
While at the gas station, Martinson made references to “just getting out of jail,” and “needing a ride to Lake Geneva.”
At around 9:38 p.m., a man entered the gas station to make a few purchases, and at 9:44 p.m. the gas station clerk saw the man’s vehicle leave the gas station while the patron was still shopping.
She told police the vehicle was stolen by “the guy that was hanging around here.”
Video surveillance at the gas station showed the customer exited his vehicle and Martinson entered it.
A town of Delavan police officer located the vehicle on Highway 11 in the city of Delavan. The officer followed the vehicle, and it stopped in a driveway in the town of Darien.
The officer told the driver to “come here,” but the driver ran away. The officer chased the suspect and eventually used his Taser to stop him.
The officer reported he could smell alcohol on Martinson and that his eyes were glassy and his speech was slurred.
On the vehicle’s passenger side floorboard police saw open and full cans of beer.
Martinson told police he walked away from the Waukesha County Huber Dorm, and called the Huber Dorm to tell them he wasn’t coming back.
On June 26, Martinson plead no contest to theft of movable property, special facts.
On Aug. 22, he was sentenced to three years of probation and nine months of jail with work-release privileges.

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Man allegedly asked kids to help him sell drugs
October 24, 2013
ELKHORN — A 26-year-old town of Walworth man allegedly attempted to convince a 15-year-old girl to sell prescription drugs on his behalf at the child’s school.Andrew R. Fawley, 306 Beloit St., faces four felonies — two counts of using a child to manufacture, distribute or deliver drugs and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If convicted of all four counts, he faces up to 24 years imprisonment and $40,000 in fines.
Woman gets probation for underage sex
October 17, 2013

ELKHORN — A 37-year-old woman who had sex with two 15-year-old boys last September in her Sharon apartment will spend the next three years on probation.
Rachael A. McCormick, now 38 and of East Troy, was also sentenced to six months in jail with work-release privileges, and she will have to register as a sex offender for the next 15 years.
McCormick was initially charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of 16, Class C felonies each punishable by 40 years imprisonment. However, through a plea agreement, the charges were reduced to two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assaults and two felony charges of exposing a child to harmful materials, both Class I felonies that are punishable by up to 3 1/2 years imprisonment each.
On Sept. 29, 2012, which was the night of the high school’s homecoming dance, four juvenile boys were at McCormick’s home. McCormick began consuming raspberry vodka and Jagermeister, and by her account and witness accounts, she became intoxicated.
A 15-year-old boy asked McCormick for alcohol, which she provided, according to Assistant District Attorney T.C. Makaya. Makaya said McCormick made sexual advances on one of the children, but that boy refused her advances. Eventually, McCormick and one of the 15-year-olds went into a bedroom and had sex. That same night McCormick had sex with another 15-year-old boy.
“She is 37 years old and more than twice the age of all those involved,” Makaya said.
Makaya said the boys at the home weren’t mature — after one of the children passed out the others squirted ketchup onto him — and McCormick took advantage of the children.
McCormick’s attorney, Joshua Klaff, said McCormick was overmedicated at the time of the incident, and friends and family reported that she was in a “zombie-like state” the days before it. McCormick initially pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to the charges because she was under the influence of prescription medication.
“She mixed alcohol with her medication and things got out of control,” Klaff said. “She was passing out left and right and then things really got out of control.”
During the hearing, Makaya said that legally the gender of the defendant shouldn’t have an effect on the case.
“We know this would be looked at in a completely different light if it was a 37-year-old man having sex with a 15-year-old girl,” Makaya said.
As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution couldn’t make a recommendation on the length of sentence. A presentence investigation (PSI) — which is a report generated by the Department of Corrections that examines the crime and the defendant’s criminal history — recommended a three year probation sentence.
“No one is asking for prison. Not the state, not the PSI and certainly not the defense,” Klaff said.
One of the victims in the case asked for McCormick to receive probation and treatment. That victim’s parent also suggested probation, and told the PSI writer that McCormick “suffered enough embarrassment and that she will suffer for the rest of her life for this.”
During McCormick’s interview with the PSI writer, she admitted that while in jail — as the charges were pending — she fantasized about having sex with strangers and sadomasochism. Fetish magazines were also located in her home, Makaya said. Makaya argued that the “sexually-deviant behavior” was another aggravating factor in the case.
“Fetish behavior is legal,” Klaff said. He argued that McCormick shouldn’t be punished more because she answered the PSI writer’s questions honestly.
Makaya said McCormick also was having a sexual relationship with a 19-year-old man at the time of her arrest.
“I think it is indicative to the point that she has the propensity to target younger, less mature people.”
Prior to the sentencing hearing, McCormick had spent 268 days in the county jail. In the event her probation is revoked and she is sent to prison, the time served in the jail will count toward that sentence.

Judge Koss
Before sentencing McCormick, Judge Philip Koss called the night of McCormick drinking with four young boys a “recipe for disaster.”
“She was clearly taking advantage of the situation that presented itself,” Koss said.
Koss said he agreed with Makaya that sexual assault cases should be looked at the same whether the defendant is male or female.
However, he also pointed out that McCormick didn’t plead guilty to the more serious Class C felonies.

Chief Buchholz
Sharon Police Chief Brad Buchholz also attended the sentencing hearing. He said in the village of Sharon his officers don’t have to investigate many child sexual assault cases.
“Our officers stepped up to face the challenge,” he said. “I think they did that extremely well.”


Bay man pleads guilty to significantly reduced charge
October 17, 2013

ELKHORN — A 44-year-old Williams Bay man plead guilty to a significantly reduced charge on Oct. 2, avoiding a felony conviction, jail time and registering as a sex offender.
Kevin J. Thomas plead guilty to fourth-degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to one-year of probation. Thomas originally was charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child, a Class B felony, which is punishable by up to 60 years imprisonment.
After a night of heavy drinking, Thomas touched a 9-year-old boy’s bottom. Because of his state of inebriation, Thomas claims he had confused the boy with his wife.
“He was horrified when he realized what had happened,” Public Defender Travis Schwantes said.
Schwantes said he lost sleep the night before the plea hearing because he felt he could have had the case acquitted at jury trial, possibly avoiding any criminal conviction for his client.
“All along we thought this shouldn’t have been charged,” Schwantes said.
However, Schwantes said the risk of losing at jury trial — which at the minimum would have resulted in probation, a felony conviction and a life-time sex offender registration — were too great.
Williams Bay Police Officer Daniel Lauderdale also didn’t believe they reached the level of a criminal offense and wrote so in his report, and, according to court documents, would testify to that fact.
“The lead investigator said he didn’t believe it raised to the level of a criminal offense,” Schwantes said.
A social worker with the department of health and human services also didn’t believe that charges should be filed. However, the state did charge Thomas.
“Professionals can have different views on how a case should proceed,” Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube said. “In the rare case like this, it makes it difficult for the state to proceed, and my goal was to safeguard the community. We resolved it in a way that can provide some level of community protection with the facts that we had.”
A week before the trial, the state offered the agreement that his client eventually accepted.
“To be successful in front of a jury we all should have the same opinion,” Grube said.
Schwantes said his client will spend one year under sex offender probation, which is more stringent than regular probation. If he violates the terms of his probation, he will serve a nine-month jail sentence with work-release privileges.
“I’m confident Mr. Thomas will be able to do well, he has been in counseling a long-time,” he said.
Schwantes said he wasn’t happy with the resolution of the case, and he didn’t think the state was happy either.
“I wouldn’t disagree,” Grube said.

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Family allegedly selling cocaine
October 17, 2013

ELKHORN — A man, his wife and stepson were allegedly selling a quarter of a kilogram of cocaine every two to three weeks from their town of Walworth home.
Abel J. Sanchez, 41, W6160 State Line Road, has been charged with possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, in an amount greater than 15 grams but less than 40 grams and maintaining a drug trafficking place.
If convicted of both felonies, Sanchez faces up to 28 1/2 years in prison and $110,000 in fines.
Francisco Pineda, 24, same address, has been charged with the same felonies and an additional misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.
If convicted of all counts, he faces up to 30 years imprisonment and $111,000 in fines.
Sanchez’s wife isn’t named in the complaint and charges haven’t been filed by the Walworth County District Attorney’s Office.
Pineda is being held in custody on a $50,000 cash bond, and Sanchez is being held on a $75,000 cash bond.
During the raid of the home, Sanchez told police that he purchased a quarter kilogram of the cocaine every two to three weeks from a Chicago supplier. A quarter kilogram is 250 grams.
Sgt. Jeff Patek with the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department Drug Unit said typically 3.5 grams of cocaine is sold for between $160 and $170.
Patek said this was also one of the largest cocaine busts in the county this year.
According to the criminal complaint:
On Oct. 1, the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the city of Delavan Police Department raided the home on State Line Road.
During the raid, Sanchez admitted to police that he, his stepson, Pineda, and his wife sell cocaine and have been for about two years.
Inside of a kitchen drawer, a digital scale, a known cutting agent and multiple bags of cocaine were discovered. The police found 37.72 grams of cocaine in the kitchen drawer.
Pineda admitted to selling cocaine for Sanchez.
He also said he threw marijuana out his bedroom window when he heard the police arrive at the residence.
Outside of the home, below the window in the room Pineda was found in, police found three bags of marijuana that weighed a total of 11.08 grams.

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Woman sentenced in underage-sex case
October 10, 2013
ELKHORN — A 37-year-old woman who had sex with two 15-year-old boys last September in her Sharon apartment will spend the next three years on probation. Rachael A. McCormick, now 38 and of East Troy, was also sentenced to six months in jail with work-release privileges, and she will have to register as a sex offender for the next 15 years. McCormick was initially charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of 16, Class C felonies each punishable by 40 years imprisonment. However, through a plea agreement, the charges were reduced to two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and two felony charges of exposing a child to harmful materials, both Class I felonies that are punishable by up to 3 1/2 years imprisonment each.
Man gets five years for child sex assault
October 03, 2013

ELKHORN — The father of six children was sentenced to five years in prison after he had sex with a 13-year-old girl in the summer of 2012.
Ricky Cervantes, 29, Pell Lake, was also sentenced Sept. 26 to 10 years of extended supervision as part of plea agreement.
During the brief hearing, emotions ran high on both sides of the courtroom. Cervantes’ wife, who will be left raising six children without her husband, was sobbing as her husband apologized for having sex with a child.
On the other side of the courtroom, the victim’s mother shed tears as she talked about the case.
“I just want you to know you ruined my daughter’s life,” the victim’s mother told Cervantes during the hearing.
The mother said Cervantes took advantage of a young girl.
“It makes me sick,” the woman added. “I hope he realizes what he has done.”
The victim’s father simply told Cervantes that he wanted justice, and that Cervantes wouldn’t want an older man taking advantage of his children.
“I know he has sisters and daughters, and if someone had done that to his sister or daughter what would he want done?” the father asked. “The same thing I want — justice.”
Prior to the sentencing, Cervantes reached an agreement with prosecutors on the length of sentence. Cervantes agreed to a prison term even though a Presentence Investigation (PSI) recommended probation.
A PSI is a report written by the Department of Corrections (DOC) that reviews the crime and recommends a sentence to the judge.
Before accepting the plea agreement, Judge David Reddy indicated he may not have followed the DOC’s recommendation for probation.
“I thought the recommendation by the presentence investigator was rather light,” Reddy said.
During his allocution, Cervantes apologized for his actions and admitted guilt.
“I was confused about my feelings for her,” Cervantes said. “I told myself that I didn’t know why it happened.”
He said he is ashamed of his actions.
“I was horrified about what I had done. I was horrified that I was sexually attracted to her,” Cervantes said. “I feel such crushing shame to admit it.”
However, Cervantes said he believes it is necessary for him to admit to his wrongdoing.
“If I don’t admit it I will hurt everyone again, even myself,” he said. “I have hurt many people. I have hurt her for the rest of her life.”
After Cervantes spoke, Reddy told him he also violated the girl’s trust.
“The reason why you committed these vicious crimes is because of your deviances,” he said.


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