ATF Under Investigation for Botched BustSubmitted: 02/02/2013
Story By Associated Press

MILWAUKEE - The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it plans to investigate a flawed sting operation in Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel exposed a ten month ATF storefront operation intended to bust felons for drug and gun offenses.

The paper reports the operation was marred by missteps. The ATF operation was robbed of $35,000 in merchandise, an agent's machine gun was stolen and a document listing undercover agents was left behind.

Several key members of Congress are demanding answers.

An ATF spokesperson says the agency is reviewing the operation.

Senator Tammy Baldwin joined other congressional members from both parties and demanded accountability.

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MADISON - Groups challenging Wisconsin's voter identification law in court don't believe the state's plan for additional education will do enough.

Earlier this month, federal Judge James Peterson approved a Department of Transportation plan to clarify the process for people who lack photo ID to get voting credentials.

That happened after media reports showed Division of Motor Vehicle employees were giving people inaccurate information.

The court-approved plan includes handouts and website clarifications.

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MINOCQUA - The Minocqua Town Board always knew it would need to replace Supervisor Bryan Jennings eventually. But the Board didn't think it happen so soon.

Jennings died September 8, two days after he was struck by lightning while walking his dog.

Town Chairman Mark Hartzheim says the Town is now accepting letters of interest from anyone wanting to fill Jennings's seat.

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WISCONSIN - This year marks the third highest bear harvest in state history.

The totals cement Wisconsin's title as the best state in the U.S. for bear harvests with 4,643 registered.

But it wasn't all good news for bear hunters. 

This year also marked the highest number of hunting dog deaths.

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RHINELANDER - We likely won't find out who Rhinelander's next police chief will be until early next year.  But the city is already working to replace Chief Mike Steffes.

Newswatch 12 learned earlier this month Chief Steffes is leaving Rhinelander to take a job with the Department of Justice.

Steffes beat out 34 other candidates to win the chief job in 2007.  Police and Fire Commission President Todd McEldowney expects to see dozens of new applicants this time.

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EAGLE RIVER - Many of us already put out the scary decorations and pumpkins for some Halloween spirit. But if you're looking to take it up a notch, dress like a zombie and grab your running shoes this Saturday.

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MERRILL - The Merrill Fire Department sees the need for more, younger EMTs to get into the business. Like other area departments, it wants to ensure its staff will stay strong for years into the future.

People like Dylan Schielke can help make that happen.

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RHINELANDER - A Marathon County man who drove to Rhinelander to meet up with a 15-year-old girl for sex told police he nearly turned around.

Instead, Dustin Zernicke pulled into the Shopko parking lot Friday night and found officers waiting for him.

The 35-year-old Zernicke made his initial appearance in Oneida County Court Monday afternoon.  Undercover officers posted an ad on Craigslist pretending to be a 15-year-old girl.  The post said "Mom sent me [to] Rhinelander for the weekend and I have nothing to do."

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