Outagamie Judge Orders New Sex Offender Placed In PoundIssue Date: July 12, 2017
The Town of Pound has been dealt another blow in its efforts to keep the Wisconsin Department of Health from moving dangerous sex offenders into a residence on 7th Road with 18 children living in the neighborhood.
Town Chair Jerry Heroux reported to the Town Board at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, July 11 that on Friday, June 23, Outagamie County Judge Michael W. Gage ordered Marinette County to accept placement of Aristole Farmer, Jr., 51, in the residence, which has been purchased for that purpose by an unnamed vendor who works with the state.
"The big thing here is there are too many kids living on that road," Heroux declared.
The home was initially purchased by the vendor as a residence for Sexually Violent Persons (SVPs) Jeffrey W. Butler and Jerome C. Leitscher, both of whom have served more than 10 years in prison and 10 years in the state mental hospital at Mauston for the offenses for which they were convicted. The offenses happened in Marinette and Oconto counties respectively, but neither man was has ever been a resident of either county.
Some months ago the vendor who purchased the 7th Road residence and contracted with the state to provide the housing was identified as Ladoga Property Management Group, LLC. Purchase of the property was reportedly finalized on Monday, April 17, with the deed reportedly filed by Susie Fiore, account executive for Knight-Barry Title Company of Menominee. Reports indicate the vendor is to be paid $1,000 rent per month.
Last month, Oconto County Judge Michael T. Judge ordered Outagamie County to provide a residence for Leitscher, who has lived there at the time of his offense.
Action in Marinette County Circuit Court on Butler's placement is currently pending, with Judge James Morrison in charge.
Butler, Litscher and Farmer have all been identified by the state as Sexually Violent Persons (SVPs) and have served long person terms for their offenses followed by long stays in the state mental hospital at Mauston. None of the three are from Marinette County.
The sex offender issue had already been on the Town of Pound's meeting agenda before Heroux learned of the Outagamie Court ruling because there are some pending changes in the state law that will go into effect once the state budget bill is passed.
At the town board meeting on July 11, Heroux informed the board that the supervised release plan was approved by Judge Gage without the knowledge of anyone from the Town of Pound. He said Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve and State Rep. Jeff Mursau attended the hearing, "but again, no lawyers represented the interests of the people of the Town of Pound." He said lawyers Kevin Greene and Robert William Peterson (at taxpayer expense) advocated for the placement of an offender from Outagamie County in Marinette County, "knowing that as soon as the state budget is passed placements must be made in the county of residence of the offender."
He said Judge Gage has given the Town of Pound and Marinette County 60 days (until Aug. 31) to find other prospective residential options for Farmer, after indicating that the Department of Health Services in Outagamie County had not identified a placement there since the request was made on Oct. 27, 2015.
"Judges in our local municipalities have listened to our letters indicating that the proposed site on 7th Road has too many (approximately 18) children to be a viable placement, and added, "However, apparently Judge Gage was unaware of such or felt that the constitutional rights of the offender overrode such considerations."
He commented that Judge Gage retired the day after issuing the order that a placement for Farmer must be made in Marinette County.
Heroux, in his formal statement, used the term "we" in reference to the Pound Town Board. He asked if any of the supervisors objected to that. They did not.
The statement declared, "Once again, we will work with our legal representatives, our state representatives, Marinette County officials, and local media to try to block such placement. We know nothing about Aristole Farmer, Jr. other than that he was or will be released from the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston where all convicted sexually violent persons are placed after they have served their sentence, as they are still considered a potential risk to society.
Heroux'statement continued, "We feel that the driving force behind the placement might well be the fact that a vendor has purchased a property on 7th Road and may have enough influence to create such a placement in what is at best an ineffective program that seems to greatly benefit financially such vendors and possibly others."
The statement concluded, "We are pleased that the State Assembly and Senate have found that changes need to be made to state law passed in 2016 related to Chapter 980, and we strongly feel that any placement made before the changes take place are at best unfair, benefitting vendors without concern for citizens, especially children."
Again Heroux asked if there was any objection to use of the term "we," and again the supervisors had no objections.
Information from the meeting included a letter from the office of Rep. John Nygren regarding some provisions in the new state law that includes putting the requirement that the offenders be released in their home county, and that county makes the final decision on placement. There is provision of penalties for counties of residence that do not locate a placement, and for a board that takes the placements out of the hands of the Department of Health Services and puts it in control of local people.
Heroux said he was told by the office of Sen. Dave Hansen that since Gage's order was made before the budget passed they would have a hard time fighting it in court.
He said Sheriff Sauve told him Judge Gage said this person has waited long enough, and Outagamie County has been unable to find a place.
Heroux said Sheriff Sauve apparently has no further information on Farmer at this time, but has said he will share the information when he does get it. He also will hold a special citizens informational meeting if the placement is final.
Meanwhile, the Town of Pound may hold its own citizen's meeting, with specific intent to have the entire public know what restrictions are placed on offenders on supervised release. In the past, the public has been told that for the first year at least they will wear "bracelets" that immediately inform law enforcement of they leave the premises. They are supposedly not allowed to go outdoors without supervision, not even onto the front porch or into the yard of their residence. Windows that border too closely on neighboring properties are to be blocked.
Judge Clifford Patz felt it is highly unlikely that anyone would be able to comply completely with the rules as described, and suggested any violation should be enough to get the person sent back.
Heroux said meanwhile they can ask Marinette County to please find some isolated site where Farmer or the other offenders could be placed without interfering with family enjoyment of their homes.
In other action at the meeting, the public is being notified that the Open Book and Board of Appeals dates have been changed to Thursday, July 27, and letters with that information have been sent to affected property owners. Open Book will be from 4 to 6 p.m., followed immediately by the Board of Appeals from 6 to 8 p.m.
Supervisor Dave Pellman commented that may cause some confusion, because for 50 years the Open Book has been on a Saturday, as has the Board of Appeals.
There was discussion of road work, building permits, and a discussion over planting of trees too near the road, over the objections of a neighboring property owner. The board was asked to look at where the trees are planted take action, if any, at the August meeting.
Dorothy Kaminski and Judy Broderick reported their welcome packets for new Pound residents is ready to go. Heroux felt a personal touch is best, and everyone agreed the packets are to be available at the town hall, and whenever a town official hears of a new resident they can personally introduce themselves and deliver the informational welcome packets.
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