Clerical errors lead to Vilas County inmate's accidental early releaseSubmitted: 03/19/2018
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director

Clerical errors lead to Vilas County inmate's accidental early release
In his 20 years with the Vilas County Jail, administrator Bill Weiss can count on two hands how many times an inmate got out earlier than they should.

"It's pretty rare," Weiss said.

Weiss needed to add to that tally last week.  The jail let Edward Chosa Junior go as a "free" man on March 13, however that wasn't his correct release date.

"It was a clerical mistake," Weiss said.

Chosa, 31, was sentenced to jail for two drug-related cases and disorderly conduct on Jan. 31st. He got credit for time served, which put his release date in May. But a jail sergeant confused "concurrent" sentences and "consecutive" due, in part, to an inaccurate Judgement of Conviction (JOC) form.  That led to Chosa's accidental release March 13.

"The sergeant or any supervisor that figures a release date is supposed to double check their work," Weiss said.

The error on the JOC form from the Clerk of Courts may have added to the confusion. Chosa's actual release date should have been in June due to time he needed to serve for a probation violation beyond his drug offenses. Weiss says the clerk apologized for that error to him.

"We tell him, come on up front, we're going to be releasing you, not too many people would say, I don't think your calculations are accurate," Vilas County Sheriff Joe Fath said.

Fath says Chosa checked in with his probation officer on March 14, the day after he got out, which tipped off jail staff to the error. Lac du Flambeau Tribal Police found Chosa at his home and a sheriff's deputy brought him back to jail March 16. Fath said Chosa fully cooperated with his arrest.

"People who wear uniforms are human beings and human beings make mistakes," Fath said.

But it's not the first mistake Vilas County Jail staff made this winter. Homicide suspect James Lussier tried to turn himself in at the jail February 9, but was jokingly told he needed to go to Iron County. Jail Sergeant Kristine Lovas and another corrections officer resigned after that mistake and an internal investigation.

Fath says a different sergeant made the mathematical error on Chosa's release date, however the sheriff says Chosa, at some point, told Lovas his release date was wrong, but she never followed up on it.  Lovas told Newswatch 12 in a phone message late Monday she did relay the information Chosa told her to a superior.

Editor's Note: The on-air version of this story at 5 p.m. incorrectly identified the jail sergeant who miscalculated Mr. Chosa's release date as the same sergeant involved in the James Lussier walk-away mistake, Kristine Lovas. The sergeant who made the initial error in Chosa's sentence was not the same person, however Sheriff Fath later clarified Lovas did have a role in Chosa's early release. Newswatch 12 regrets the error.

"They're totally unrelated, totally different circumstances," Fath said of the Lussier and Chosa cases.

Still, Fath and Weiss developed a plan to prevent any inmates from being let go early again. It is now mandatory for two supervisors to sign off on release dates, staff went over the policy review change, and a jail list with release dates will go out to all probation officers and local police. The sheriff's office had stopped sending that list and, instead, was only posting it online after a software change about three years ago.

"Obviously people are very aware of what happened and nobody wants to have that to happen again," Fath said.

Chosa now has a new release date of mid-June. He will need to serve three extra days for the time he spent free last week.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com


Play Video

MINOCQUA - The weather ruined plenty of plans on Friday for tourists in the Northwoods, but not everyone was unhappy with the dreary weather. 

"During the rainy time, it's just, all day long," said Jacob Boelz, who works at The Loon in Minocqua.

Boelz said when there's rain, the business pours into Minocqua shops. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MINOCQUA - People buying brats in Minocqua Thursday and Friday did more than just filled their stomachs. They helped the area homeless at the same time. 

Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing (NATH) hosted a brat sale fundraiser at the Trig's in Minocqua. The money raised will go towards the Frederick Place, which provides safe housing to those in need. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MERCER - Two Mercer School Board members, Karl Anderson and Christa Reinert, are facing backlash for questioning finances of the district and the behavior of some of its leaders. 

"I get [an] upset stomach thinking about the things that are going on," said Anderson.

Anderson was elected to the five-person board this spring. He ran to support fellow school board member Christa Reinert and to try to correct some of the wrongs he saw happening in the district. 

"Some of the facts that have been coming out seem to be waking people up," said Anderson.

Those facts are misuse of taxpayer money, improper raises, and intimidation techniques, which were observed during this interview when a man in a car drove by yelling profanities.

+ Read More

ANTIGO - One Antigo woman needed more space to share her folk medicine knowledge.

To keep up with demand, Kelly Keyser-Millar recently moved her 'Mortar and Pestle' shop right next door from its old location in downtown Antigo.

Digestion problems are a common reason that people come into the shop.

She recommends digestive bitters to get your system moving naturally.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN RAPIDS - 25 years later and the movie The Sandlot still brings a lot of smiles.

2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the classic film.

To celebrate, actors from the movie are on a mini tour around the U.S.

Scotty Smalls and Tommy Repeat Timmons joined the Wisconsin Rapid Rafters Thursday evening.

"It's hard to believe," said Shane Obedzinski, who played Tommy "Repeat" Timmons in The Sandlot. "It feels like it was yesterday. But it's awesome. We are very very grateful."

The Sandlot actors stopped in Wisconsin Rapids to throw the first pitch at the Rafters game and meet their fans.

+ Read More

SUN PRAIRIE - A contractor struck a gas line in Sun Prairie causing an explosion July 10th that killed firefighter Cory Barr.

That contractor was not registered to do business in Wisconsin, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Michigan-based VC Tech, Inc. was hired by Kansas-based Bear Communications to help install new fiber optic cable lines in Sun Prairie.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Hodag Country Festival brings more than a dozen country music artists to Rhinelander every year.
However, it hasn't always been that way.The grounds may be empty now but last weekend every inch was covered with campers.Gerry Vanharpen knows what it takes to get tens of thousands of people to come together over country music.

"We've been working the festival from the very beginning," said Vanharpen. 

Vanharpen's parents Bernie and Diane started the Hodag County Festival with just five performers in 1978. This year the 41st annual festival had 17.

About 20,000 people went to this year's festival. Vanharpen said when the last person left the camp grounds Sunday it was just the beginning.

"We work year round planning the next one," said Vanharpen. 

Vanharpen has already started working on security and next year's lineup. She wants to make sure the cheers get louder ever year.

+ Read More
+ More General News

Click Here