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

RHINELANDER - People will use tax preparers and online sites to file their tax returns. 

Here's information that accountants think they should know. 

Matthew Whalen is the Manager of Taxation at Northland CPAs in Rhinelander. 

He often gets calls from clients about messages they received from the IRS.

"They [get] a phone call from the IRS that says they're filing a lawsuit against the client. 

That is entirely false that's just a scam artist trying to get you to wire money to them. 

The IRS and the department of revenue will only send letters," said Whalen.

The IRS and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue only send real paper letter sin the mail. 

They will never call you.

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - Firefighters in Vilas County put out Monday's house fire on Highway 17 without anyone getting hurt. Many have put out more fires than they can count. But all of them experienced a first Monday. The Eagle River Area fire department used a mutual aid system that is just beginning to grow in Vilas County.

"It allows you to focus on the incident as opposed to the resources that you have," said Eagle River Area Fire Chief Michael Anderson.

+ Read More

Play Video

NORTHWOODS - You might notice young drivers tend to be more distracted than others. A new study from AAA shows that 88 percent of young millennials are risky drivers. Texting while driving, speeding, and red-light running all fall into that category.

Eighteen-year-old Faith Stapleton admits that she isn't the most focused driver.

"I know I've gotten pulled over more times because I've been checking my phone and I wasn't monitoring my speed very well," said Stapleton.

+ Read More

PLOVER - Police make a second arrest in an armed robbery that happened in Plover over the weekend.

Plover Police say they picked up 20-year-old Andrew Jelinski, who's from Stevens Point, on Monday afternoon.

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - Kim Kargus-Myers knew she'd need to do some lifting Tuesday afternoon.  The Lakeland Union Student Council adviser raised a big trophy above her head.

"Very heavy, it's heavier than my children," Kargus-Myers laughed while speaking of the award.  "It felt great, I got my workout in for the day."

Kargus-Meyers stood proud in the LUHS field house, letting hundreds of students know that trophy is theirs.

"It was a special moment," Kargus-Meyers said.

+ Read More

MADISON - The head of the state prison system is assuring lawmakers that Wisconsin's troubled youth prison is safe.

Department of Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher told the Assembly Corrections Committee during an informational hearing on Tuesday that the prison outside Irma is safe and secure and is focused on educating inmates.

+ Read More

NEW LONDON, WI - Eleven people, including at least three children, are being treated for injuries following a crash involving a school bus and semi near the Waupaca County and Outagamie County line.

The sheriff's department says the semi driver was airlifted to ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah Tuesday morning.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here