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Secret Cocaine Buys Lead to ArrestsSubmitted: 03/25/2013
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Secret Cocaine Buys Lead to Arrests
MERRILL - Two secret cocaine deals by a Tomahawk Police informant led to three drug arrests.

We told you about those arrests last week.

On Monday, Jason Echterling was in Lincoln County Court for the first time.

He's one of three people charged with felonies for dealing marijuana, cocaine, and prescription drugs.

An investigator talked about how the informant worked with police.

"We provided him with $275 of currency, also, a body wire and a recorder. At that time, we followed the informant over to the residence," testified Tomahawk Police Investigator John DuPlayee.

Tomahawk Police say Echterling sold the informant cocaine two different times.

That gave them enough evidence to carry out a search warrant and arrest Echterling and two others March 15th.

Judge John Yackel decided there was enough evidence to move forward.

Echterling pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Andrew Prokudowicz and Danielle Stevens will appear in court within the next two weeks.

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 IN OTHER NEWS

TOWN OF RINGLE - Emergency responders got a report of a garage fire around 12:43 a.m. Saturday morning in the Town of Ringle according to the Marathon County Sheriff's Office.

When firefighters arrived to the 11000 block of Oasis Drive, the unattached garage was engulfed in flames. The sheriff's office reports the garage, which was used as a workshop, is a total loss. 

Ringle Fire, along with Wausau Fire, Easton Fire, and SAFER Fire, were able to extinguish the fire before the home became totally involved. But the side of the home does have significant damage.

The fire department and sheriff's office are investigating the cause of the fire. 



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MILWAUKEE - Law enforcement officers are looking for 25-year-old inmate Tasir Bhatti who escaped from the Marshall Sherrer Correctional Center in Milwaukee. 

Bhatti was serving a five-year sentence for drug charges. The Department of Corrections reported the inmate's escape to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and the Milwaukee Police Department.

Bhatti is 5'9, 179 lbs., and has brown hair and eyes. Anyone with information regarding Bhatti's location should immediately contact law enforcement. 

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WOOD COUNTY - A body was pulled from the Wisconsin River in Wood County Tuesday.

Devante London, 22, was reported missing on April 9. 


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MERRILL - A Northwoods school pulled off a big surprise on Friday to honor a few veterans. After months of planning, students and staff at Kate Goodrich Elementary got to see the payoff of all their hard work.

"It was like kind of overwhelming," said Wolfgang Lenk. 

Lenk, Todd Annis, and Randy Perry had no idea they would be the guests of honor.

"To see all these kids and knowing how hard they worked selling all this, and now your name comes up that you're one of the three recipients, it was awesome," said Annis. 

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TOMAHAWK - Many race car and dirt track drivers will rev up their engines at the Tomahawk Speedway Saturday, which is when the dirt season starts.

The dirt track season starts Saturday.

"It's awesome, the adrenaline rush is great," said race car driver Shauna Cottrell when she was doing some practice runs at the speedway.

"I'm not going to lie; it can be scary at times. But it's the thrill of a life time," said Cottrell.

After doing a few practice runs around the track last week, Cottrell is ready for the dirt racing season to kick off Sunday at the Tomahawk Speedway.

"It feels great to know that I can get out and compete with the guys," said Cottrell.

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RHINELANDER - A scoop of frozen custard goes down pretty well on a humid day like the Northwoods saw Friday. Rhinelander's Associated Bank made grabbing a scoop an easy way to help others.

Culver's set up a mobile custard stand outside the new bank building on the corner of Lincoln Street and Oneida Avenue from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.  Fifty cents from every $2.50 cup sold went to Associated Bank's Children's Miracle Network fund.

The bank is hoping to raise $500 through its fundraisers for CMN this month.

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TOMAHAWK - The first thing you notice about Tomahawk Police Chief Al Elvins is his Southern drawl.

He lived in Georgia for years.

The second thing you notice is just as out of place in northern Wisconsin. It's the black and yellow. Everywhere.

In the land of the green and gold, Packers country, Elvins is a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

He'll take you outside the Tomahawk Police Department to show you the guard posts.

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