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Case Against Alleged Computer Sex Predator Will Move ForwardSubmitted: 05/20/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Case Against Alleged Computer Sex Predator Will Move Forward
RHINELANDER - In March, Benjamin Lahti posted on Craigslist he wanted sex.

A girl claiming to be 15 years old responded to the 24-year-old Ironwood man.

They planned to meet in Minocqua.

That's when Lahti was arrested as part of a statewide internet sex predator sting.

"I asked if he knew why I wanted to talk to him. He stated because of the 15-year-old girl he was supposed to meet," testified Minocqua Police Sgt. Jason Benbenek.

Lahti was actually messaging an undercover sheriff's deputy.

On Monday court, Lahti's defense lawyer tried to say he may not have known the girl was underage.

Oneida County Judge Michael Bloom threw out that claim.

He also wondered what might have happened in a different situation.

"Instead of Officer Benbenek being there, there was a vehicle with a female, physically mature, 15 years old - who knows what would have happened, under those circumstances?" said Bloom.

Judge Bloom found enough evidence to move forward with a felony sex crime charge.

Lahti will return to court on June 10th.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

TOWN OF RINGLE - Emergency responders got a report of a garage fire around 12:43 a.m. Saturday morning in the Town of Ringle according to the Marathon County Sheriff's Office.

When firefighters arrived to the 11000 block of Oasis Drive, the unattached garage was engulfed in flames. The sheriff's office reports the garage, which was used as a workshop, is a total loss. 

Ringle Fire, along with Wausau Fire, Easton Fire, and SAFER Fire, were able to extinguish the fire before the home became totally involved. But the side of the home does have significant damage.

The fire department and sheriff's office are investigating the cause of the fire. 



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MILWAUKEE - Law enforcement officers are looking for 25-year-old inmate Tasir Bhatti who escaped from the Marshall Sherrer Correctional Center in Milwaukee. 

Bhatti was serving a five-year sentence for drug charges. The Department of Corrections reported the inmate's escape to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and the Milwaukee Police Department.

Bhatti is 5'9, 179 lbs., and has brown hair and eyes. Anyone with information regarding Bhatti's location should immediately contact law enforcement. 

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RHINELANDER - A scoop of frozen custard goes down pretty well on a humid day like the Northwoods saw Friday. Rhinelander's Associated Bank made grabbing a scoop an easy way to help others.

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Devante London, 22, was reported missing on April 9. 


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CRANDON - Crandon High School honored dozens of students on Thursday as part of its Student of the Year Awards.

For the eighth year, teachers at the school were asked to select a student who excelled in their class.

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Math: Claudia Krueger, Drew Boney, Jacob Wilson, Jordan Kalata, Hallie Henrie, Lindsay Littleton, Kilie Kramer

Social Studies: Allyson Stepper, Jonathon Strzyz, Jordan Brooks, Elizabeth Conway, Devon Evans, Erika Kern, Mc Kenna Jensen, Maddi Stroik, Lindsay Littleton

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TOMAHAWK - Many race car and dirt track drivers will rev up their engines at the Tomahawk Speedway Saturday, which is when the dirt season starts.

The dirt track season starts Saturday.

"It's awesome, the adrenaline rush is great," said race car driver Shauna Cottrell when she was doing some practice runs at the speedway.

"I'm not going to lie; it can be scary at times. But it's the thrill of a life time," said Cottrell.

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The second thing you notice is just as out of place in northern Wisconsin. It's the black and yellow. Everywhere.

In the land of the green and gold, Packers country, Elvins is a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

He'll take you outside the Tomahawk Police Department to show you the guard posts.

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