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Suspected drug dealer threw money from bridge, police say; Woman convicted of kidnapping newborn nephew; Nine more state news briefs

A 23-year-old man accused of selling “substantial quantities” of heroin in the Duluth-Superior area was arrested Thursday after he allegedly eluded police officers and threw money out his vehicle’s window while driving across the Blatnik Bridge.

Authorities said the suspect had 20 grams of heroin when police tracked him down in Duluth. He was taken to the St. Louis County Jail and faces charges of selling drugs and fleeing in a motor vehicle.

Duluth police said officers identified the suspect sitting in his vehicle at about 10 a.m. Thursday in Superior. They had a search warrant related to heroin sales.

The man took off as officers approached, officials said, speeding around squad cars and across a lawn. He headed for the Blatnik Bridge, and at its base on the Superior side he allegedly threw an unspecified amount of paper money from the window.

Officers lost sight of him in Duluth, but a short time later, Proctor police located the vehicle near Interstate 35 and Midway Road. The Minnesota State Patrol and Border Patrol assisted police in stopping the vehicle.

The suspect, who lives in the Duluth and Chicago areas, has an extensive criminal record and had been out on bail for first-degree heroin possession.

--Forum News Service


Woman convicted of kidnapping newborn nephew

Kristen Smith will go to prison for a long time after she was found guilty of kidnapping her baby nephew near Beloit and leaving him behind a gas station in the sub-zero cold.

A federal court jury in Madison deliberated for about three hours before convicting the 31-year-old Denver area woman.

Smith faces a mandatory 25-year term, and she could get up to life behind bars when she's sentenced Oct. 27.

Smith said she took five-day-old Kayden Powell from his mother's house last February because the father wanted her to and because her family would soon move in with her in Colorado.

Kayden's mother, Brianna Marshall, said she couldn't understand why Smith would make that claim.

Prosecutors said Smith had planned for months to kidnap the baby, saying she wanted to pass her off as her own.

The defense said it didn't make sense because Smith already has four of her own kids and a step-child. Defense lawyer Matthew Noel says the government did not make its case. He plans to appeal.


Johnson, Baldwin both vote for vets’ health care reform law

Both of Wisconsin's U.S. senators helped pass a compromise veterans’ health care reform bill.

Republican Ron Johnson and Democrat Tammy Baldwin were both among the 91-3 majority that approved the bill last night and sent it to President Obama who has agreed to sign it.

In June Johnson was one of only three senators to vote against a larger reform package, citing a cost figure that's twice as much as the current bill. The new measure costs $17 billion over ten years. About $5 billion would come from other Veterans Administration spending cuts while the rest will be added to the deficit.

The agency will lease and staff 27 additional veterans clinics to reduce a backlog of appointments. The VA will have to pay for care at outside facilities if veterans cannot get a VA hospital appointment within 30 days and within 40 miles of their homes.

In response to a recent scandal that exposed the backlogs, the bill allows agency executives to be fired immediately with a three-week appeal process.

Johnson said he would have preferred that the entire cost be offset by spending cuts, but the compromise was still good enough to support.


Wisconsin State Fair considered world’s largest junior dairy show

The opening day of the Wisconsin State Fair was filled with music, rides, cream puffs and political pitches. But the real purpose of the fair is what many of the million-plus attendees never see -- the hard work put in by youngsters as they get their prize animals judged.

The State Fair is considered to be the largest junior dairy show in the world with more than 900 head entered this year. Open competition takes place later.

Gov. Scott Walker will recognize the contestants' efforts at the annual Governor's Livestock Auction next week.

The governor helped open the fair yesterday, and he and his Democratic challenger Mary Burke both satisfied those fairgoers who wanted political spin with their foods on a stick.

"Rain, a Tribute to the Beatles" is the featured performance on the main stage tonight.

One other note about the animal competition -- Fair ag director Brian Bolan says there are tighter health regulations at the swine show due to the PED pig virus.


School janitor gets prison term for possessing child porn

A former school custodian in far northern Wisconsin will spend three years in prison for looking at child porn on school computers.

Richard Buell, 62, used to work in the Phelps School District.

He pleaded guilty in June to two felony counts of possessing child porn. Eight similar counts were dropped in a plea deal with Vilas County prosecutors.

Authorities said a school-issued laptop that monitors the district's ventilating systems was used to download child porn. School officials told police about it in February of last year.

After his prison term, Buell must spend three more years under extended supervision.

--Raymond Neupert, WSAU, Wausau


Voter ID decision leaves questions

If the federal courts restore Wisconsin's voter ID law, the state Assembly Speaker says there might be a problem with enforcing it.

The State Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the photo ID requirement is constitutional. But the court said the government cannot force people to show documents that cost money -- like a copy of a birth certificate -- when applying for ID's.

Critics call that a poll tax, and lower court judges cited the concern when they ruled that the voter ID law was unconstitutional.

Republican Speaker Robin Vos said the Supreme Court decision leaves a potential for fraud because it does not give clear options in determining who a voter claims to be.

Attorney General JB Van Hollen said his office and the state Department of Transportation are looking for ways to make the provision work.

Vos and Senate GOP leader Scott Fitzgerald said the Legislature might take up the subject next year.

For now, it's a moot point because a federal judge's ruling prevents the ID law from going into effect. The state is appealing that decision. 


Pilot dies when plane hits trucks at AirVenture

A pilot was killed, and his passenger was seriously hurt in a crash on the grounds of the EAA AirVenture Show in Oshkosh.

Federal officials said the pilot was trying to land on a runway at Wittman Airport when it bounced and then crashed in a row of trucks, which created flames and smoke.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause. The EAA's Dick Knapinski said the man who flying the Breezy airplane died and his female passenger was in serious condition at last word.  Names of the victims and their hometowns were not immediately released.

Knapinski said the airport was temporarily closed for about an hour after the crash.


Troopers nab truck driver accused of sex crime in Florida

The State Patrol arrested a truck driver for a sex crime in Florida, but troopers would have missed him had they showed up at the time he supposed to make a delivery.

Gary Baldwin, 59, of Jacksonville was an hour early yesterday when he dropped off a load of fire safety equipment at Paris Manufacturing in Weyauwega.

He was wanted for allegedly trying to solicit the sexual battery of an 11-year-old child.

Florida authorities knew Baldwin's work schedule and asked Wisconsin officers to arrest him. State Patrol Sgt. Terrie Johnson said it was fortunate that the troopers got there early to position themselves because Baldwin was just leaving the plant after dropping off his load. Troopers stopped Baldwin's rig and arrested him 53 minutes before his scheduled arrival at 11 a.m.

His rig was taken to a truck stop where it was searched. Officers found a cellphone that will be given to Jacksonville sheriff's deputies as evidence.

Baldwin is in jail in Waupaca County, awaiting extradition to Florida.

--Larry Lee, WSAU, Wausau


What does Act 10 decision mean Madison teacher contracts?

No one knows what will happen to the contracts negotiated after a Madison judge said Wisconsin's Act 10 was unconstitutional for local and school unions.

The State Supreme Court threw out that ruling yesterday when it upheld the public union bargaining limits for both state and local workers.

After the Colas ruling, the Madison School District extended teacher contracts through mid-2016. Spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson said the district believes it was on "solid ground" to negotiate those deals, and they'll continue to be honored.

State Attorney General JB Van Hollen said he had no idea if contracts like that are valid. He expects lawsuits will answer that question.

The Wisconsin State Journal said eight Madison city contracts were due to expire next March, but officials have been working on a plan to have those packages end in December. City Attorney Michael May said the validity of those deals was put into question by the Supreme Court ruling.

Dane County also has union contracts in effect through 2016. County Board Chairwoman Sharon Corrigan is awaiting clarification, but she believes the contracts were negotiated in good faith and they should remain valid.


Former bishop sentenced to 10 years for killing woman while driving drunk

A former Lutheran bishop from Madison will spend ten years in prison for killing a jogger in a drunk-driving crash.

Bruce Burnside, 60, was sentenced yesterday at the end of an eight-hour hearing in Dane County Circuit Court.

He was rushing to a church event in Sun Prairie when he struck Maureen Mengelt, 52, near the end of a freeway ramp in April of last year.  He kept going for a short distance before stopping at a corner business.

Prosecutors said Burnside tried to flee the crash scene, but his attorney said he pulled over as soon as he could.

Mengelt, a former Madison police officer, was training for a 20-mile race. Burnside's blood alcohol level was more than 1 1/2 times the legal limit. He said he didn't realize he was too impaired to drive. He denied fleeing the scene, but he still took responsibility for what happened.

His lawyer said a 2-4 year prison term was appropriate, much shorter than the decade Burnside was given.

Burnside pleaded guilty in May to reckless homicide and first-time OWI. Five other counts were dropped in a plea deal.

Burnside was the bishop of the South Central Wisconsin synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He left that post soon after his arrest.


Police challenge to Act 10 remains

One legal challenge remains to Wisconsin's Act 10 public union bargaining limits -- and the plaintiffs' argument is similar to what the State Supreme Court rejected yesterday.

The Law Enforcement Association, made up of state police officers, will decide in the coming week whether to keep pursuing its challenge after the justices upheld Act10 on a 5-2 vote.

Madison attorney Lester Pines, who represented the unions involved in yesterday's decision, said the challenges to Act 10 are basically exhausted.

Justice Patrick Crooks wrote that he was obligated to uphold the union restrictions even though they departed from the state's strong labor traditions.

In Crooks' words, "The damage to public employee unions due to Act 10 was unnecessary." Still, Crooks found nothing unconstitutional about it.

Justice Ann Walsh Bradley wrote that public workers had their freedom of association diluted. Justice Michael Gableman disagreed, saying unions still have a right to whatever cases they can make in public forums, but the government is under no obligation to listen.