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Manhunt continues for cop suspected of burglary; Utility scams getting more sophisticated; Nine more state news stories

A search is on in northwest Wisconsin for a southeast Wisconsin police lieutenant wanted for burglary and the theft of a pickup truck.

Authorities in Barron County said Waupun officer Bradley Young led officers on a chase last night and then fled on foot into a wooded area near Rice Lake.

A manhunt began involving SWAT team officers, sheriff’s deputies and other law enforcement personnel. Homes were evacuated within a mile of where Young, 43, disappeared.

Sheriff’s officials said they believe that Young had a weapon at last word.


Utility scams getting more sophisticated

Wisconsin utility scams are on the rise, and they’re getting more sophisticated.

We Energies of Milwaukee received over 500 reports of scams in the last year and a half. About 10% of those people were victimized.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel says more people are being told that their power will be cut off, or their house will explode, if they don’t buy a new meter. Some get calls from an official-sounding scammer called the “Wisconsin Energy Disconnection Department” to say they’re behind on their bills.

In most cases, people are told to buy prepaid debit cards and call in the numbers. The scammers then walk away with the entire amounts on the debit cards. At least one victim lost over $1,000. Madison.

Police have had about 50 utility scams since March. Many calls go to restaurants and other businesses in the hopes of catching somebody off guard at their busiest times. In Beloit, the downtown business group sent an alert to its members after some were told that Alliant Energy would install new meters, and the utility would need deposits or the old meters would shut down.

Kerry Spees of the Wisconsin Public Service utility in Green Bay said most people “smell a rat” and call their utility when they think they’re getting scammed. In reality, utilities own their meters and never charge customers for them, and those behind on their bills get written disconnection notices.


Gogebic security firm gets state license

A military-style security firm has received a state license, and state officials say they will not penalize the company for working without one.

Gogebic Taconite rankled mining opponents when it hired the Arizona firm of Bulletproof Securities. The firm’s armed guards worked for a week in early July before they were pulled because they did not have a state license.

The state Department of Safety and Professional Services could have fined Bulletproof Securities up to $500, put its representatives in jail for up to six months and barred the company from operating for a year. State officials decided to pursue none of that. Agency spokeswoman Brittany Lewin said Bulletproof followed normal procedures.

The Iron County district attorney’s office first said it would consider charging the security firm but later said it would defer to the state.

Gogebic Taconite hired the armed guards in response to a theft and vandalism incident at the site in mid-June. Now, the mining firm says it will use the Bulletproof firm along with others who’ve been working at the site.


Walker would consider prison terms for illegal possession of guns

Gov. Scott Walker says he’s open to creating mandatory minimum prison sentences for illegal gun possession.

Milwaukee’s mayor and police chief called for that measure yesterday after two violent months in which non-fatal shootings in the city jumped by 19% from the year before.

Mayor Tom Barrett and Chief Ed Flynn want state legislators to set a mandatory prison term of at least three years for illegally possessing firearms. That might be a hard sell, though. Some lawmakers have balked at longer prison terms for drunk drivers, saying the state cannot afford the necessary prison space.

Milwaukee had 144 non-fatal shooting incidents in June and July -- 23 more than the same time a year ago. This summer’s total is also the highest since 2006.

Three people were killed and eight wounded in Milwaukee violence this past weekend alone. The victims were identified yesterday. Dominic Baker, 27, and Samuel Soto, 23, were shot to death in separate incidents. Twenty-eight-year-old Darvin Trigg was beaten to death by a known suspect who remained at large at last word. Baker’s death is the only one from the weekend in which suspects are being sought.


Wisconsin man is U.S. Open Chess champ

A Brookfield man says he’s living proof that if you keep plugging away at something, good things can happen.

Joshua Friedel became the first Wisconsinite in recent history to win the annual U.S. Open Chess Championship in Madison over the weekend.

Friedel said he overcame the odds by studying numerous tactics and puzzles beforehand. He has represented Wisconsin in the U.S. Open since he was nine years old, starting in 1996.

He won a tiebreaker after splitting first place with two other players. Friedel lost one game in the tournament to a higher-rated opponent. He says it’s tough to fight back after such defeat.

Over 100 Wisconsin players competed in the national tournament in their home state. About 420 others came from elsewhere to take part.


Loyal man charged with two counts of homicide by drunk driving

A 22-year-old man has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly killing two Wisconsin Rapids women in a drunk driving crash.

Tim Saavedra of Loyal made his initial appearance Monday in Portage County Circuit Court on two counts of homicide by drunk driving and two counts of reckless homicide. He waived a preliminary hearing and conceded there’s enough evidence to put him on trial. Saavedra is scheduled to enter pleas to his charges on Sept. 16.

Authorities said his blood alcohol level was at .14 shortly after he drove his pickup truck into a cluster of trees July 20. Data from the truck showed that Saavedra was driving at 94 mph before the crash.

Two of his passengers – Stephanie Eberhardt and Melissa Peterson-Suzda, both 21 – were killed. A 21-year-old Rudolph man was also injured.


Commission: 77 Milwaukee children were victims of sex trafficking

A new report shows that at least 77 children in Milwaukee were victims of child sex trafficking over a two-year period ending last August.

Milwaukee’s Homicide Review Commission reviewed police incident reports and then estimated the total number of children either recruited or encouraged to be a part of commercial sex acts.

The new report shows that almost 80% of child sex trafficking victims are black, and 92% are girls. Seven of every 10 victims had been reported as missing to Milwaukee Police at least once.

The city’s Child Welfare Bureau and the Bob and Linda Davis Family Fund paid for the study.

Erin Perkins of the Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence-and-Sexual Assault says the new data will be quite useful because there’s very little information available about child sex trafficking on a local level.

Police Detective Lynda Stott said the problem is hard to quantify since most sex trafficking is reported as battery or domestic violence. She said Milwaukee police have at least a dozen pending cases involving pimps who traffic children.


New laws offer assistance for soldiers

Wisconsin service members will benefit from two new state laws signed Monday by Gov. Scott Walker.

One bill allows soldiers with financial problems to get up to $2,500 in assistance from a check-off fund on state income tax returns created two years ago. Previously, only a soldier’s or Marine’s family could get the help. The new bill allows the troops themselves to get the assistance, and they no longer have to be on active duty when they apply.

Senate Republican Jerry Petrowski of Marathon said financial difficulties can sometimes affect a service member’s security clearances and an ability to perform assigned jobs.

The second new law changes travel reimbursements for active National Guard members so the state payments are the same as the federal ones. Walker says it will make their paperwork easier.

Petrowski was the main sponsor of both bills in the Senate. Eleva Republican Warren Petryk was the main Assembly sponsor. Walker signed the measures during a ceremony in Madison.


Teen gets 40-year term for killing unarmed boy

A De Pere teenager has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for shooting an unarmed boy to death in Green Bay.

Julio Gonzalez, 19, escaped a possible life sentence after he struck a plea deal in May and pleaded no contest to reduced charges of reckless homicide and reckless endangerment.

He was among seven people convicted in the death of 15-year-old Jeremy Teller of Green Bay last July 31. Authorities said the defendants were seeking revenge from an earlier fight when they confronted Teller and a friend. Gonzalez shot Teller in the back even though the victim was the not the intended target.

Last Friday, Miguel Garcia, 26, was sentenced to 15 years for being a party to felony murder. Three others got lesser sentences. The final two defendants are still waiting to be sentenced.


1,000 attend Sikh Temple vigil

About 1,000 people gathered at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek last night for a candlelight vigil that marked the one-year anniversary of the temple’s shooting rampage.

The vigil was held next to the parking lot where two of six worshippers were killed last Aug. 5 by gunman Wade Michael Page.

Children of some of the victims gave passionate eulogies at the vigil. They recalled the chaotic shooting scene, said they’ve come closer than ever and thanked the community for its support the past year.

Gurvinder Singh, 15, who lost his father Ranjit, said he has seen two kinds of American people – one like the gunman Page and the many who helped the Sikhs in their time of need.

“Thank you for your love,” said the teen.

Oak Creek Mayor Stephen Scaffidi praised his city for the love and support they’ve shown. He said Oak Creek is “not a city of hate – it’s a story of what all communities should do.”

The vigil was the last of several anniversary events during the weekend, including religious observances and a six-kilometer run in honor of the six victims.



Signs removed from field named for Rodriguez

A youth sports field in Appleton is no longer named in honor of Alex Rodriguez.

The New York Yankees slugger was suspended for 211 games Monday for multiple violations of baseball’s drug program.

The Appleton field was named for Rodriguez in 2003. USA Youth, which manages the field, said the Rodriguez signs have been taken down, and the group’s board will now consider options for a new name.

The Fox Cities Sports Authority chose A-Rod’s name to highlight his brief time with the former Class “A” minor league Appleton Foxes, who are now the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. Rodriguez played 65 games for Appleton in 1994, hitting .319 with 14 homers before he was promoted to a Double “A” team in Florida.