Loading

50°F

47°F

53°F

50°F

53°F

50°F

49°F

50°F

53°F
NEWS STORIES

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

Play Video

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
Hearing set on request to change Wisconsin ballotSubmitted: 09/18/2014

Play Video

MADISON - A court hearing has been set for next week in the lawsuit filed by Republican legislative leaders seeking to force a change in the model ballot for the November election.

Meanwhile, the state elections board is telling local clerks to move forward with sending out absentee ballots while the lawsuit is pending.

The complaint was filed Wednesday in Waukesha County Circuit Court by state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. They argue the ballot as drafted is confusing and unfairly benefits Democrats because of how it's designed.

+ Read More
Middle School students in Merrill work to get rid of invasive speciesSubmitted: 09/18/2014

Play Video

MERRILL - Students at Prairie River Middle School in Merrill want to enjoy the river behind their school.

They spent time on Tuesday clearing out some of the invasive species along the riverbank.

"They're taking over and we need to get rid of them while there's still time," says 8th grader Morgan Henrichs.

Science teachers at Prairie River Middle School want to teach their students how to get rid of invasive species.

+ Read More
Detective team arrest 3 people for growing marijuanaSubmitted: 09/18/2014

BRUCE CROSSING, MI - Detectives from the Upper Peninsula Substance Enforcement Team, or UPSET arrested three people for growing marijuana.

It happened Wednesday at 11:30 in the morning near Bruce Crossing.

UPSET detectives seized nearly $6,200 in cash, 130 marijuana plants, a gun, 5 pounds of marijuana that had already been made, 1 gallon of what detectives think was hemp oil and illegal mushrooms.

+ Read More
19th Annual Parade of HomesSubmitted: 09/18/2014

Play Video

ANTIGO - You can tour five beautiful homes in Antigo this weekend.

It's the 19th Annual Parade of Homes on Saturday from noon until 4 p.m. in Antigo.

+ Read More
Integrys auctions off property in St. Germain Submitted: 09/18/2014

ST. GERMAIN - Investors could try to grab lakefront property in St. Germain today.

Integrys is the parent company of Wisconsin Public Service.

The group sold its property in the auction.

"We don't need the property, there's no use for it and there's no sense in us hanging on to it. We've carved it into some very large lots and given now with this auction, people the opportunity to own a nice chunk of land on a really pristine, small lake," said Integrys Spokesperson Kerry Spees.

+ Read More
Cars for sale in a local parkSubmitted: 09/18/2014

Play Video

ANTIGO - People looking to buy a car could go to a dealer, or go online.

How about going to a park instead?

+ Read More
Harvesting season approaching for cranberries, not as deep red color this yearSubmitted: 09/18/2014

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - Cranberry growers in the Northwoods will start harvesting soon. Lake Nokomis Cranberries Manager Michael O'Brien says the weather has delayed the harvest for many farms in the area, but that doesn't mean they'll see a poor harvest this year.

Lake Nokomis Cranberries in Eagle River will start their 21 day harvest on Monday. They've had to deal with the challenges from a late winter and cool summer. They were planning on harvesting earlier in September, but will be delayed until Sept. 22st.

"You start out behind right from the beginning and we never got the heat in the July, and so we've been battling that all year," O'Brien said.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here