Loading

52°F

50°F

57°F

54°F

57°F

54°F

54°F

55°F

57°F
NEWS STORIES

Hildebrand case shows synthetic drugs create challenges for law enforcementSubmitted: 11/14/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A Rhinelander man busted for selling bath salts won't do jail time.

John Hildebrand was busted last year for selling the drug out of his adult gift store. But all he'll have to do is pay court costs and stay out of trouble for a few years.

The outcome might surprise you given the severity of the original charges. But his case is the prefect example of why it's so hard for law enforcement to deal with synthetic drug cases right now.

Bath salts are gaining traction in the Northwoods. We've all heard the horror stories coming from around the U.S., and hear about it more and more here.

John Hildebrand was charged with nine felonies, all having to do with selling MDPV, known as the bath salts drug. Police found out he was selling it right out of his adult gift shop in Rhinelander. The charges were so serious he faced a maximum of 113 years in prison.

The federal government had to issue an emergency blanket ban on bath salts while legislators worked on permanent laws to make them illegal. But here's where the problems start: the statutes that make the drug illegal list specific ingredients. These newer designer drugs aren't like marijuana or cocaine; their chemical makeup can be easily altered just slightly, making them technically legal. That's why Hildebrand's original case was thrown out.

"We have to wait for a certain amount of time and once those results come back because of the results it wasn't actually a controlled substance under the act and so he couldn't formally charge under that. So he dismissed that case and re-filed it under the abuse of a hazardous substance statute," says Oneida County District Attorney Mike Schiek.

Oneida County got creative. The abuse of a hazardous substance statute was created to battle huffing, but had enough room for interpretation it could be applied to other drugs without their own statute.

"We don't want as a community to let these new drugs come in and say, 'Listen we don't know what we can do. We can't prosecute this because it's not in the books so there's nothing we can do about it'. We would rather take a much more proactive approach and charge them under these other statutes that we think certainly apply," says Schiek.

Other counties throughout the state are facing the same struggle. Drug enforcement officers who worked on this case told us other counties were anxious to see if Oneida Count could pull off successfully prosecuting someone for bath salts under that statute. It would be the first time.

"That was the first bath salts case, I believe, this county saw. And when it came through the media was very excited about it, I wasn't the original prosecutor but even in my role as a defense attorney I remember that case coming out and the defense bar talking about how that was going to affect things," says Schiek.

Last month Hildebrand was convicted of one of the felony distribution of a hazardous substance charges, as part of a plea deal. Hildebrand had to pay court costs, and has to stay out of trouble or he'll be hauled to jail. So why not go all the way to trial for both charges? One reason is since the statute wasn't designed for that specific drug it would have dragged the case out much longer than the two years it had already been going on. Schiek considered other factors too.

"Discrete Pleasures was closed down. It's my understanding he owned a construction business; he lost that as well. He had a home in the area that he lost. The message is that it took its toll on his life; he got messed up with this stuff and it literally ruined his life. The charges were certainly warranted but he lost everything," says Schiek.

Another big reason is there was a lot riding on them getting a guilty conviction. It sets a precedent for the whole state to start pushing these cases, rather than throw in the towel.

"We have to try to protect the community. And if these drugs are coming in and we're just throwing up our hands and saying, 'There's nothing we can do about it, we just have to let it happen'. I don't think that's the right way to handle the problem. I would rather take a different approach and let people know that if these drugs do come into the community we've got a statute we can prosecute under and we're willing to go for it," says Schiek.



Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 10/22/2014

- Oneida and Lincoln are among 19 counties statewide that will ask voters if Wisconsin should accept federal money to expand BadgerCare. We'll look at the question tonight.

- Cooler temperatures helped the state use less water in 2013 than it did in 2012. The state DNR found Wisconsin's groundwater and surface withdrawals dropped by 6 percent from the year before.

- And practical shooting gives people the chance to practice in real-life situations. You can find a number of teams across Wisconsin. We'll take a look at one group in Rhinelander and how the sport helps them practice, and build friendships. That's tonight on Newswatch 12 at Six.

We'll have the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More
Water weevils not effective option in fighting EWMSubmitted: 10/22/2014

NORTHWOODS - Earlier this summer, scientists thought they may have found a new way of fighting one Northwoods invasive species.

Water weevils are native to the Northwoods. Scientists hoped the weevils could kill invasive Eurasian water milfoil.

It turns out the weevils do kill milfoil, but the beetles are not very efficient.

+ Read More
Spending less on HalloweenSubmitted: 10/22/2014

RHINELANDER - The average person will spend $77 this year on Halloween costumes, decorations, and candy.

The Goodwill in Rhinelander hopes you'll look good for much less. Goodwill has Halloween items like hats, trick-or-treat baskets to full costumes.

+ Read More
20 flu-related hospitalizations in Wisconsin so far in OctoberSubmitted: 10/22/2014

MADISON - State health officials say the flu season is off to a strong start in Wisconsin.

State epidemiologist Thomas Haupt says influenza hospitalizations have been unexpectedly on the rise in October. 20 people have been hospitalized in the past three weeks. Haupt tells WISN-TV (http://bit.ly/1wo5JOD ) one or two hospitalizations are common this time of year, but not 20.

+ Read More
Asian carp DNA found in Green Bay's Fox RiverSubmitted: 10/22/2014

GREEN BAY - Wisconsin wildlife officials say Asian carp DNA has been found in the Fox River in downtown Green Bay.

The state Department of Natural Resources says a single positive sample for silver carp was identified from 200 samples taken this summer in the Fox, a tributary of Lake Michigan.

The discovery by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in the heart of the city, and was part of a survey that started at the mouth of the river and ended about five miles upstream.

+ Read More
3 teens dead after crash in Shawano County Submitted: 10/22/2014

SHAWANO COUNTY - Three teens died after a two-car accident in Shawano County Tuesday evening.

The Shawano County Sheriff's Office responded to a call about a two-car crash along Highway 22, north of Friendship Road in the Town of Bell Plaine.

A white car was heading northbound on Highway 22 and lost control while trying to cross into the southbound lane. The passenger in that car was hit by an oncoming SUV driving, also traveling southbound.

+ Read More
Deer councils to release their first recommendations soonSubmitted: 10/22/2014

MADISON - New county deer councils in Wisconsin will soon release their first recommendations.

Forming the councils was a key part of the recommendations made by Wisconsin's deer czar.

Texas researcher James Kroll came up with the ideas in 20-12 to help the Department of Natural Resources improve deer management.

The councils are scheduled to release their preliminary recommendations next month.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here