Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

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


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

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - When you think of entrepreneurs you probably think of technology startups or new inventions.

But the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation wants to focus on artists as entrepreneurs as well. 

With the latest business incubator in Eagle River, they've done just that.

+ Read More

MADISON - A federal judge has refused to stay his order allowing Wisconsin residents to vote without photo identification while state attorneys appeal the decision.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in Milwaukee issued a preliminary injunction this month allowing people who haven't been able to obtain IDs to vote in the Nov. 8 election if they sign an affidavit explaining why they couldn't get the identification.

+ Read More

Play Video

ANTIGO - World-class athletes hope to etch their names into the history books during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. But all the hard work isn't done by the athletes alone.

"I'm just going to focus on what I'm there for, and that's to do the best I can for my athletes," said Antigo native Dr. Curt Draeger.

+ Read More

Play Video

ANTIGO - When the Kretz family started the Kretz Lumber Company here in Antigo in 1929, they built part of the original saw mill with hemlock that grew near the property.  Now, a piece of hemlock far older than that serves as a reminder of the company's rich history.

+ Read More

WAUSAU - A 43-year-old Marathon County man will go to prison for more than a decade for incest after being convicted in Marathon County court Friday.

Micheal Mayville was originally charged with multiple counts of incest and second-degree sexual assault in two separate cases. Those assault charges were ultimately dismissed.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - North Brown Street is now open and parking is also available. It has parallel parking spots and angled spots. Restaurants have already noticed an increase in business after the street opened late last week.

+ Read More

Play Video

WHITE LAKE - There's a lot of pride in the Village of White Lake.

The people there are proud of their school, proud of their health center, and proud of their history.

"There's just so much history here. It's just a good little place," said White Lake Area Historical Society secretary Judy Popelka. 

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here