Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

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

Hildebrand case shows synthetic drugs create challenges for law enforcement
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

EAGLE RIVER - An Eagle River man pleaded not guilty to multiple drug related charges. 

Police arrested Scott Schmidt, 33, of Eagle River and Stephanie Wolfe, 34, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, on March 30 for making meth in Schmidt's Eagle River home on Highway 45.

+ Read More

MERRILL - It appears a Merrill man accused of killing his father might not go to trial. 

On July 14 2017, prosecutors charged Tyler Monroe with killing Kevin Monroe in January 2016 and hiding his corpse.

+ Read More

PORTAGE COUNTY - Police want to find a suspect in a shooting in the Town of Plover.

The Portage County Sheriff's Department is looking for 18 year old Alec Varney. Police believe he fired a shotgun at two men injuring them. A third person had a stab wound. 

+ Read More

TOMAHAWK - Lemon Bar and Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler can be more than just bakery desserts.

They're flavors at one Tomahawk ice cream shop.

The Windmill Ice Cream Shoppe will open its doors at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon.

Owner Pat Berg says a couple of people will be already waiting in line for the door to be opened.

+ Read More

Play Video

WASHINGTON D.C. - Some veterans wait years to board the Never Forgotten Honor Flight to visit memorials in their honor. For some, that day never comes in time.

"He's here looking down at us," said Jerome Lang. "There's no doubt about it."

Jack Lang was the oldest of four boys. He died at the age of 78 just five weeks before what would have been his first trip to Washington D.C. on the 31st Never Forgotten Honor Flight. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - People keep asking Northwoods veterans officers the same question.

When will the new national cemetery near Rhinelander open?

At an information session in Merrill on Wednesday, the VA said design plans are about 35 percent done. But a John Knapp, a VA representative, couldn't give a timeline on when construction might start or finish.

He said it depends on the contractor, the weather, and approval from the VA.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - DNA evidence from a pair of sweatpants could link a Northwoods man to a violent sexual assault. Prosecutors offered up some of that evidence against Richard Loppnow in Oneida County court on Wednesday morning.

The victim accuses Loppnow, 38, of forcing her into several sexual activities twice on his property south of Eagle River back on October 28 and 29th of 2017.  

The criminal complaint shows the first assault happened in a building on Loppnow's property.  Testimony revealed claims that Loppnow held a gun to the victim's head.

"[Loppnow was] advising that she could either be humiliated or shot in the head," Oneida County Detective Sergeant Ryan Rossing testified.  "She chose to be humiliated due to not wanting to be harmed."

After later moving to a mobile home trailer on the property, the victim claims Loppnow pointed a sawed-off shotgun or handgun to her head and gave her several options.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here