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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 02/24/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

About 4.2 inches of snow has fallen already as a winter storm warning is in effect until 6:00 AM Saturday. We'll keep you up to date and let you know what to expect until tomorrow morning.

If you think brushing the snow off your car is a hassle for you, just think about what it's like for car dealerships to brush off multiple cars. We'll take you to a Rhinelander auto dealer and find out how the process works.

We'll take you to Tomahawk to hear from local officials about their take of the Police seizures bill that Wisconsin legislatures are proposing.

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

+ Read More

WAUSAU - Earlier this week the Trump administration withdrew protection of federal transgender bathroom rules.

Those rules protect transgender students' right to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity, even if that is different than their gender assigned at birth.

+ Read More

HAYWARD - Organizers of the American Birkebeiner ski race have canceled this year's event in northern Wisconsin.

A snow storm that's dumped more than 10 inches of snow in parts of Wisconsin since Thursday missed the Hayward and Cable area where the annual cross-country race is held. Officials say record high temperatures and rain recently have left the Birkie course unsafe for a race on Saturday.

+ Read More

CHICAGO - A federal appeals court hears arguments in a pair of cases involving Wisconsin's voting laws.

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals was hearing arguments Friday in the cases that involve Wisconsin's voter ID and early voting laws.

+ Read More

MADISON - The white Madison police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager will continue working behind the scenes and not return to active patrol.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval made the announcement about Matt Kenny's future in a blog post Friday. The post came the day after Madison's insurance carrier settled a federal lawsuit with the family of Tony Robinson, Jr, for $3.35 million.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - People suffering from alcohol and drug addiction can now seek treatment at a new center in Minocqua.

The Family Health Center of Marshfield opened its new clinic Thursday.

The HOPE Consortium is a group of medical providers dedicated to treating addiction. 

FHC Executive Director Greg Nycz said they came together to make this center happen.

+ Read More

Play Video

ST. GERMAIN - Wisconsin's archery deer hunt ended more than a month ago. However, archers don't have to hang up their bows until next year, because an archery shop in St. Germain offers an indoor shooting league for people to target practice during the winter weather.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here