Clerical errors lead to Vilas County inmate's accidental early releaseSubmitted: 03/19/2018

Play Video
In his 20 years with the Vilas County Jail, administrator Bill Weiss can count on two hands how many times an inmate got out earlier than they should.

"It's pretty rare," Weiss said.

Weiss needed to add to that tally last week.  The jail let Edward Chosa Junior go as a "free" man on March 13, however that wasn't his correct release date.

"It was a clerical mistake," Weiss said.

Chosa, 31, was sentenced to jail for two drug-related cases and disorderly conduct on Jan. 31st. He got credit for time served, which put his release date in May. But a jail sergeant confused "concurrent" sentences and "consecutive" due, in part, to an inaccurate Judgement of Conviction (JOC) form.  That led to Chosa's accidental release March 13.

"The sergeant or any supervisor that figures a release date is supposed to double check their work," Weiss said.

The error on the JOC form from the Clerk of Courts may have added to the confusion. Chosa's actual release date should have been in June due to time he needed to serve for a probation violation beyond his drug offenses. Weiss says the clerk apologized for that error to him.

"We tell him, come on up front, we're going to be releasing you, not too many people would say, I don't think your calculations are accurate," Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath said.

Fath says Chosa checked in with his probation officer on March 14, the day after he got out, which tipped off jail staff to the error. Lac du Flambeau Tribal Police found Chosa at his home and a sheriff's deputy brought him back to jail March 16. Fath said Chosa fully cooperated with his arrest.

"People who wear uniforms are human beings and human beings make mistakes," Fath said.

But it's not the first mistake Vilas County Jail staff made this winter. Homicide suspect James Lussier tried to turn himself in at the jail February 9, but was jokingly told he needed to go to Iron County. Jail Sergeant Kristine Lovas and another corrections officer resigned after that mistake and an internal investigation.

Fath says a different sergeant made the mathematical error on Chosa's release date, however the sheriff says Chosa, at some point, told Lovas his release date was wrong, but she never followed up on it.  Lovas told Newswatch 12 in a phone message late Monday she did relay the information Chosa told her to a superior.

Editor's Note: The on-air version of this story at 5 p.m. incorrectly identified the Chosa jail sergeant as the same officer involved in the James Lussier walk-away mistake. The sergeant who made the clerical error in Edward Chosa's case was not the same person, however Sheriff Joe Fath later clarified that sergeant did have a role in Chosa's early release. Newswatch 12 regrets the error.

"They're totally unrelated, totally different circumstances," Fath said of the Lussier and Chosa cases.

Still, Fath and Weiss developed a plan to prevent any inmates from being let go early again. It is now mandatory for two supervisors to sign off on release dates, staff went over the policy review change, and a jail list with release dates will go out to all probation officers and local police. The sheriff's office had stopped sending that list and instead only had it posted online after a software change about three years ago.

"Obviously people are very aware of what happened and nobody wants to have that to happen again," Fath said.

Chosa now has a new release date of mid-Hune. He will need to serve three extra days for the time he spent free last week.

Story By: Lane Kimble

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story


Play Video

MARATHON CITY - Every visitor to Marathon Area Elementary School faces locked doors and a buzzer system to get in.

It's a safety measure now common in schools across the state, but one new to Marathon in the last two years.

If Gov. Scott Walker has his way, state public schools will soon have more money to make security upgrades like those in Marathon.

Richard Parks became Marathon superintendent ten years ago. Times were different then.

+ Read More

Play Video

RIB MOUNTAIN - A Wisconsin State Patrol Captain wants to know, who's ready to report for duty? The department is looking for  new cadets. But recruitment and training is no easy task.
"[It's] very hard to find qualified candidates. It's a struggle," said Wisconsin State Patrol Captain Adrian Logan.
Captain Logan wants five people to answer the call. 

The department's looking for new cadets who'll train to become state troopers.
However, the process of finding the right candidate is no easy task and takes dedication from both sides.
"It's a very extensive process," said Logan.
After passing a background check and interview, candidates will go through 12 weeks of field training, 26 weeks of training with an officer, then a yearlong probation period.
"You've got to be committed to it," said Logan.
The dedication for the role doesn't stop there. 

+ Read More

WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Police are looking for information about the death of a Wisconsin Rapids man.

Police found 29-year-old Jacob Johnson dead in a home on Chestnut Street Saturday. 

+ Read More

Play Video

LAKE TOMAHAWK - Dave Nance's job as a Camp American Legion volunteer means doing a little bit of everything. He's spent the last several years giving back to the place that gave him his life back.

"This is a special place. There's no place like it and it's life changing," said Nance who's from the Tomah-area. 

+ Read More
+ More Local News


NEW LONDON - New London police have sent pieces of candy from a St. Patrick's Day parade to the State Crime Laboratory to see if it's tainted.

Police warned people not to eat candy they got at Saturday's parade over concerns it may be contaminated. They received about 10 complaints about children and others developing temporary numbness or rash since Saturday.

+ Read More

DULUTH - Officials say the expected departures of six vessels this week will mark the start of the 2018 commercial shipping season in the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority says departure times are hard to pinpoint, but the first two vessels plan to leave their winter berths on Tuesday. They include a tug, as well as a freighter that will head for Two Harbors to load iron ore. Four other ore boats are expected to leave Thursday and Friday.

+ Read More

CLARK COUNTY - David Farris has been found safe according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice. 

+ Read More

BEAVER DAM - The FBI wants help figuring out what led up to an explosion that killed a man in Beaver Dam.

Investigators believe 28 year old Benjamin Morrow was making bombs in his apartment when an accidental detonation killed him March 5th.

+ Read More
+ More Regional News

Click Here