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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Former Assistant Fire Chief Gets 15-Years for Child Sex

Issue Date: August 23, 2017

James H. Swanson, 74, former Middle Inlet assistant fire chief, was sentenced on Friday, Aug. 11 in Waukesha County Circuit Court for using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime. He is ordered to serve a total of 15 years for the offense, six of them in state prison, followed by nine years on extended supervision.

Several other conditions were imposed. He is not eligible for the Challenge Incarceration Program or the Substance Abuse Program. Credit was given for 40 days served.

Swanson had been arrested on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016 as a result of a "sting" operation that included investigators from Waukesha City Police Department and Marinette County Sheriff's Department.

He is currently in Waukesha County Jail after pleading guilty to the Class C felony offense on Monday, June 26 before Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph M. Ramirez. At that time, sentencing was set for Friday, Aug. 11.

Other terms of the sentence include that Swanson is to have no contact with females under the age of 16, no access to Internet other than that approved by the agent, not to possess any cameras, reimburse Waukesha County for attorney fees, complete sex offender treatment and pay the $268 fee, report as a sex offender for 15 years, and provide a DNA sample, which includes a $250 surcharge. Those costs also are to be deducted from the bail money before the balance is returned to Swanson, pending results of the review hearing on Oct. 26.

The case started on Feb 15, 2016, when detectives of the Waukesha Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit arrested Swanson, who had been using numerous social networking sites to advertise himself as a professional photographer, with a business named "Swanson Photography." The report states he used this business as a way to attempt to meet and take nude photos of young girls.

The police report states that Swanson had been charged with 1st degree Sexual Assault of a Child in 1989. He had also been arrested in 2001 for taking topless photos of a 16 year old female, but was never charged with this crime.

Swanson had recently retired as Assistant Chief of the Middle Inlet Fire Department, and lived at W7108 Saint Paul Road, Crivitz.

According to court records he was alleged to have used a computer between Jan. 29 and Feb. 15 to communicate with a person he believed to be a 15-year-old girl, but who was actually a detective with the Waukesha Police Department. Swanson allegedly sent photos of young nude females. The detective sent him a photo of a Waukesha police officer who at the age of 15 was dressed and holding a dog.

Eventually a meeting was arranged in Waukesha on Monday, Feb. 15. As Swanson pulled up into the parking lot at the meeting site he was taken into custody by Waukesha Police and placed in jail.

He appeared in Waukesha County Circuit Court on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Cash bond of $50,000 was set for his next court appearance on Wednesday, Feb. 24, before Judge Laura Lau.

On Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 a search warrant was executed at Swanson's home at W7108 St. Paul Road, Crivitz by Waukesha Police and deputies from the Marinette County Sheriff Department. Items seized were presented to the Waukesha Court on Friday, Feb. 19.

At a preliminary hearing Wednesday, March 16, 2016 in Waukesha County Circuit, Swanson entered a plea of "not guilty" to the felony charge of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime.

At that hearing, City of Waukesha Police Detective Michael Carpenter testified about the undercover "sting" operation and search warrants for Swanson's home in Crivitz that led to his arrest on Feb. 16. According to court documents, Swanson's address since Feb. 17 had been the Waukesha County Jail.

After hearing testimony, Judge Lau found that probable cause existed to believe that a felony was committed and bound Swanson over for trial. Bond remained at $50,000, and Swanson remained in custody.

Defense Attorney John Paul Marchan requested a reduction in bail on Swanson's behalf, and at a motions hearing on Friday, March 25, 2016, over objections from the prosecution, bail was reduced to $20,000. Conditions were continued that he comply with ID processing, not use or possess any device that can access the Internet, have no unsupervised contact with girls under the age of 18, and not to use any type of device that can transmit photographs.

The guilty plea was entered and accepted on Monday, June 26. On Tuesday, Aug. 8, Defense Attorney John Paul Marchan filed motions requesting return of property. At the Aug. 11 hearing Marchan presented the court with a proposed order regarding Swanson's medication, and the court agreed to sign the order. The judge also ordered that cash bail money remaining after paying all court expenses, attorney fees and other costs is to be returned to Swanson. The state objected to return of the bail unless Swanson agrees to pay for removal of images from the computer. The court scheduled a review hearing for 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 26.


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