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.

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ONEIDA COUNTY - A spinoff in the Ashlee Martinson saga seems to have come to a close.

The man convicted of stealing from the home where Martinson killed her parents will spend a month in jail.

Mark Spietz, 39, of Kaukana, was sentenced in Oneida County Court on Thursday.

Back in August, a jury decided Spietz was guilty on four counts of burglary and theft.

According to the criminal complaint, Spietz took ATVs, bows, a tractor, a trailer and Jennifer Ayers' purse from the home. Spietz claimed he was securing the property for a company based in Arizona.

In court on Thursday, Spietz's wife, siblings and parents all testified to his character and work ethic. They testified Spietz is a good father to a seven-year-old son and two step-sons. They said he also takes care of his parents who have health problems.

Spietz's attorney said he believes his client is still innocent.

"I believe that Mark had he had intended to steal the ATVs he wouldn't have gone through the bother of finding the titles," said Spietz's attorney Brian Bennet. "I believe that a person doesn't commit burglaries in broad daylight with the name on the side of his truck or trailer."

However, the state said it didn't seem Spietz took responsibility for what he did. District Attorney Mike Schiek asked for jail time.

Judge Michael Bloom agreed. He recalled sentencing Ashlee Martinson.

"And I looked at her sitting right where you're sitting now, before I had to look an 18-year-old girl in the face and send her to prison for 23 years, and I told her, you had a choice," Judge Bloom said. "And Mr. Spietz, you as well had a choice."

Spietz will also spend 18 months on probation. He can serve his jail time in any county jail as long as he clears it with the Onieda County Sheriff's Office. He also received Huber privileges and will be allowed to go to work and help his parents during his jail time. 

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TOWN OF CRESCENT - Who should pay what to keep a Northwoods lake healthy?  That's -- in part -- the question people around Squash Lake near Rhinelander have debated for months now.

Some want to form a lake district to generate money, but not everyone is on board.  Supporters sent out a petition this summer and got more than 51 percent of landowners to say they support the district.

The organizers say the district fees would pay for DNR divers to clear Eurasian Water Milfoil, which costs around $20,000.  Those fees would cover a grant that's coming to an end.

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RHINELANDER - It took 10 years, but Rhinelander may finally get the spark it needs to build a dog park.

An anonymous woman gave dog park advocate Tina Werres a $10,000 dollar donation recently.  Werres raised about $2,000 -- literally pennies at a time with donation jars -- over the last decade.

But many people didn't want to give a lot of money until a specific location was chosen.  Werres says she still doesn't have a spot approved, but this big donation puts her much closer to actually building a park.

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Packers' Abbrederis WaivedSubmitted: 10/27/2016

GREEN BAY - Thursday evening, it was announced that Wisconsin native, Wisconsin Badger alum, and Green Bay Packer Jared Abbrederis has been waived.

According the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, wide receiver Abbrederis was waived on Thursday. He was placed on injured reserve on Monday due to a quad injury ever since the game with the Cowboys. From the article, Abbrederis negotiated an injury settlement and wanted to be waived immediately so it would help him potentially be picked up by another team.

Abbrederis was originally drafted by Green Bay in 2014 in the fifth round. He missed that whole season due to an ACL injury and then a big majority of the 2015 camp with a concussion.

This story will be updated if new information is released.

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MADISON - A 74-year-old man will no longer face disturbing child pornography charges in Iron County.

Instead, Charles Raimondi is now charged in federal court, which could mean a harsher sentence if he's convicted.

Raimondi is accused having a five-year-old girl pose for sexually explicit pictures over a span of about two years.

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WOOD COUNTY - We now know the names of the people involved in a Wood County Crash that killed two people Tuesday afternoon.

The Wood County Sheriff's Department says the cars crashed head-on along Highway 80 in the Town of Dexter around 3:30.

71-year-old Barbara Baldwin of New Lisbon was driving one of the cars, and died in the crash.

Her passenger, 74 year old Louise Hemenway of New Lisbon, also died.

Another passenger in the car, 72-year-old Dona Sharp, was hurt....as was the driver of the second car, 30-year-old Greg Kopelke of Wisconsin Rapids.

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MADISON - A Department of Natural Resources review has found Wisconsin's fight against chronic wasting disease was hampered by funding as well as social and political factors.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Thursday the review found the state five years ago greatly de-emphasized killing deer in high-infection areas, a statewide feeding ban wasn't sought and prohibitions on carcass movement were complicated by expanding infection areas.

A new electronic deer harvest registration system has made collecting tissue samples harder, a marketing campaign to educate the public was discontinued due to cost and lack of money prevented surveys of public attitudes about CWD's spread.

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