Loading

43°F

39°F

43°F

41°F

43°F

45°F

43°F

44°F

43°F

42°F

44°F

45°F

43°F
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
2 men on sinking boat are rescued on Lake MichiganSubmitted: 11/22/2014

- One Wisconsin man is recovering in a hospital after he and another man were rescued from a sinking boat on Lake Michigan Friday morning.

The Ozaukee County Sheriff's Office responded to a call from a man who said his boat was taking on water at about 11 a.m. The boat was less than a mile off the coast of Belgium, Wisconsin, according to the sheriff's office.

The men and their boat were recovered and brought back to shore.

A 31-year-old man from Oak Creek was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. A 24-year-old Neshkoro man was uninjured. Neither man has been identified.

+ Read More
2 injured, 1 dead in Taylor County crashSubmitted: 11/22/2014

Play Video

TAYLOR COUNTY - Slippery road conditions could have caused the death to one person and injured two others in a car crash in Taylor County Friday.

The Taylor County Sheriff's Office says the crash happened around 4 p.m. on County Line Road and 11th Avenue in the Town of Roosevelt. Deputies say the driver of a 1997 Ford Explorer lost control while trying to turn North onto 11th Ave. The truck sled into the ditch on the Northeast corner of the intersection. It then struck a utility pole as it was overturning.

The 58-year-old driver, Laverne Palms, was airlifted from the scene with serious injuries.

+ Read More
Deer donation an option as gun hunting season beginsSubmitted: 11/22/2014

WISCONSIN - Gun hunting season started across Wisconsin Saturday.

Most hunters shoot for sport.

But some donate their catches to help families in need.

+ Read More
Door County fish business subject of federal probe Submitted: 11/22/2014

Play Video

MILWAUKEE - A Wisconsin company that processes Great Lakes fish for sale worldwide has been caught up in a federal investigation into the illegal trafficking of lake trout, lake sturgeon, whitefish and walleye.

Court records show U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents set up a fake fish store in L'Anse, Michigan, recorded conversations, and raided Dan's Fish in the northeastern Wisconsin city of Sturgeon Bay in Door County.

No criminal charges have been filed, but search warrants served as part of the investigation were recently unsealed.

+ Read More
Tiffany, Wisconsin GOP skeptical of billions of dollars of budget requests from state agenciesSubmitted: 11/22/2014

MINOCQUA - A quick glance at Wisconsin's governmental finances could convince you the state has a hole to fill.

Projections show the state will take in $2.2 billion fewer than its agencies want to spend from mid-2015 to mid-2017.

The state legislature and Gov. Scott Walker will need to figure out how to make the numbers work.

Northwoods Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) points out the money the agencies want is more than the agencies will get.

+ Read More
Empty Bowls event fills Rothschild with soup, hopeSubmitted: 11/22/2014

Play Video

ROTHSCHILD - The Rothschild Pavilion couldn't easily hold the huge number of people on Saturday who wanted something simple " soup.

Lines snaked out the door for the 7th annual Empty Bowls event.

Everyone who tried one of 41 different soups will help fight hunger for others in northcentral Wisconsin.

"It's a true reflection of the caring quality of Marathon County," said The Neighbors' Place Executive Director Tom Rau.

+ Read More
Wives and girlfriends enjoy Holiday Open HouseSubmitted: 11/22/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The start of the deer hunting season normally leaves wives and girlfriends at home by themselves, but an organization in Rhinelander wants to get them out of the house.

This was the first time Downtown Rhinelander Inc. hosted Holiday Open House Saturday. Businesses along Brown street welcomed wives, girlfriends and families into the their stores.

The owner of Hext Theater in Rhinelander believes this is kind of like a kick-off for the holiday season.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here