Sometimes All It Takes Is a Phone Call
Sometimes All It Takes Is a Phone Call
We all have elderly loved ones in our lives, whether they are relatives, neighbors, friends, or coworkers. In today’s fast-paced world where information gets passed around online and people are less likely to pick up the phone to check in on one another, elderly loved ones are more susceptible to abuse and exploitation.
Elder abuse can take many forms, including physical, emotional, or financial abuse. According to a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 in 10 Americans over the age of 60 have experienced some form of abuse. We must protect our elderly loved ones from those who prey on our seniors for financial gain and attack the elderly because they think the elderly can’t fight back.
A report from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) report said that in 2015, nearly 18 percent of elder abuse calls involved financial exploitation. To protect yourself or an elderly loved one from financial exploitation, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) advises the following:
- Do your research. Do business with companies you know or that come recommended by those you trust. Get as much information as you can about a business or charity before you pay. Check out a business with the Bureau of Consumer Protection before you act.
- Don’t wire transfer money to anyone you don’t know. Money sent via wire transfer or money cards is practically impossible to track. Pay by credit card (not debit card) whenever possible, since you can dispute charges easily.
- Just don’t answer…be cautious when responding to telemarketers, door-to-door sellers, and email or text pitches. Instead of responding to unsolicited offers, decide when and where you want to go shopping.
- It’s personal, keep it that way. Never give out your Social Security number, credit card or bank account number or other personal information to anyone you don’t know who contacts you.
- You don’t have to pay if you are a winner. Anyone who demands an upfront fee or purchase for a prize is trying to scam you.
- Protect your computer. Don’t click on links within unsolicited emails. Don’t enter personal information on unfamiliar websites. Make sure that you have updated anti-virus software installed, use a firewall at all times, and use strong passwords you change regularly.
- Check your credit report regularly. You’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each nationwide credit bureau. To access your free credit reports, visit www.annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
If you are being neglected or abused – financially, physically, emotionally, or sexually; or fear someone you know is being abused, please contact your county’s Adults-at-Risk help line. You can do this by calling your county health and human services department, or find your county’s number here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/aps/aar-agencies.htm
This week, I visited the 27th county on my 72-county round table tour to meet with law enforcement and local elected officials. Want to know where I'm going next? Click here.
16 Child Sexual Predators & Traffickers Arrested in Operation New Hope
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrested 16 alleged child sex predators and child sex traffickers during Operation New Hope, a week-long operation focused on child exploitation and online crimes in Wisconsin.
I spent a large part of my career prosecuting sensitive crimes against children, and I swore to continue protecting Wisconsin’s children when I became Attorney General. ICAC operations like Operation New Hope bring together committed law enforcement and victim advocacy groups to stop the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. Thanks to our DOJ ICAC team and partners across the state and nation, 16 predators are behind bars, ensuring children in Wisconsin are that much safer.
Law enforcement officers made sixteen arrests in the following counties: Brown, Clark, Columbia, Dane, Eau Claire, Marquette, Outagamie, Rock, Shawano, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, and Winnebago. Five individuals arrested during Operation New Hope were registered sex offenders or had previously been arrested for internet crimes against children-related crimes. Charges against those arrested included: possession of child pornography; exposing a child to harmful material; child enticement; use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime; attempted sexual assault of a child; causing a child to view sexual activity; and trafficking of a child.
The investigation of so many cases in one week would not have been possible without Alicia’s Law, legislation authored by Senator Van Wanggaard and Representative Joel Kleefisch and passed by the Wisconsin State Legislature during the last legislative session. Alicia’s Law provided additional funding to the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) program, and created an administrative subpoena process that expedites the procedure for finding the location of suspected internet sex predators.
Lawsuits Filed Against Milwaukee Stores Selling Synthetic Cannabinoids
The Wisconsin Department of Justice and Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) sued Atomic Glass, and Food Town Mini Mart, both in Milwaukee County, for selling designer drug synthetic cannabinoids known by such names as “Spice” and “Kush” in violation of Wisconsin consumer protection law, in particular, the prohibition on fraudulent drug advertising (Wis. Stat. § 100.182).
I will not tolerate any drug dealer putting our communities at risk with dangerous and unpredictable drugs. At DOJ, we work hard to bring all illicit drug dealers to justice, whether their retail venue is on the street or at a store. This case would not have been successful without dedicated attorneys, investigators, and law enforcement from DOJ, DATCP, Milwaukee Police Department, City of Milwaukee and the DEA.
Synthetic cannabinoids, known to be unpredictable and dangerous, are one type of “designer drugs.” They are similar to THC, the main psychotropic compound in marijuana, but have slightly different chemical compositions that are constantly evolving faster than protective laws. Synthetic cannabinoids are often risky, and have been linked to cases of organ failure, acute psychotic episodes, delirium, and death.
Some, but not all synthetic cannabinoids, are on the list of controlled substances and are subject to criminal prohibition. The producers of these drugs keep changing the chemical formula to stay one step ahead of legislation designed to regulate the unpredictable chemical components. When one of these chemicals becomes illegal, drug producers switch to a new one that is not yet covered by the law. As a result, users of these drugs don’t know what they are getting when they smoke them. These drugs have not been tested for safety, and are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This particular DATCP case utilizes “the prohibition on fraudulent drug advertising” to crack down on the retail sellers of these dangerous products.
Atomic Glass and Food Town Mini Mart have sold large amounts of these dangerous products to the public, from stores in the Milwaukee area.
Quality Work of DOJ Investigators, Assistant Attorney General Results in Life Sentence of Iron County Man for Homicide and Arson
45-year-old Donald F. Rick was sentenced by Iron County Judge Patrick J. Madden to life in prison, without the possibility of parole, for the March 12, 2016 murder of a woman and the arson of the Bear Trap Inn in Saxon, Wisconsin.
I am regularly thanked by local law enforcement and community leaders for the excellent work of the elite team at the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) that keeps our communities safe. The successful investigation and prosecution of this murderer and arsonist is the latest example of leadership our state has come to expect from DOJ. I’m proud to work alongside the men and women of DOJ who delivered justice to this victim’s family and community.
Mr. Rick robbed the Bear Trap Inn after the bar closed in the early morning hours of March 12, 2016. During the robbery, Mr. Rick had an encounter with a female employee and stabbed her five times. Mr. Rick then doused the female employee and the Bear Trap Inn with gasoline and lit the building on fire, resulting in her death and total destruction of the facility. Mr. Rick pled guilty to first-degree intentional homicide in December 2016.
The DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation Arson Bureau led the investigation into this arson and homicide and Assistant Attorney General Dick Dufour led the successful prosecution of Mr. Rick. DOJ was assisted by the Iron County Sheriff’s Office, Iron County District Attorney’s Office, Saxon-Gurney Fire Department, Town of Kimball Fire Department, Upson Volunteer Fire Department, and the Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Federal, State, and Local Authorities Make Fentanyl Bust in Adams County
On Monday, May 15, 2017, a suspicious package was intercepted by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that was found to contain Furynal Fentanyl, an analog to Fentanyl which has been responsible for numerous overdoses throughout the State of Wisconsin. Furanyl Fentanyl is frequently mixed with heroin or sold as purported heroin. This parcel was destined for an address in Adams Friendship.
On Wednesday, May 17, 2017, a search warrant was obtained for an address located in the 200 block of N. Pierce Ave, Adams, WI. Several agencies coordinated the execution of this search warrant, including the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation, Wisconsin National Guard 54th Civil Service Team, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, USPS, Adams County Fire Department, Adams County Child Protective Services, City of Adams Police Department, and the Adams County Health Department. Fentanyl varies in its potential lethality, and because these substances are often difficult to distinguish on site, personnel responding to this situation were required to wear special protective gear similar to that worn when methamphetamine labs are encountered.
Ask the Office of Open Government: Meeting Minutes
Question: My town board’s meeting minutes do not reflect everything that occurred at the meeting. Is this a violation of the open meetings law?
Answer: The answer depends on what is reflected in the meeting minutes. So long as the minutes record all motions and roll-call votes, generally, there is no violation of the open meetings law. A popular misunderstanding is that the open meetings law requires that a governmental body maintain meeting minutes. This is not the case. The open meetings law only requires a governmental body to create and preserve a record of all motions and roll-call votes at its meetings. This requirement applies to motions and roll-call votes that occur in both open and closed sessions.
Meeting minutes are a common method that governmental bodies use to preserve a record of motions and roll-call votes. However, minutes are not the only permissible method. For example, an audio recording would fulfill the open meeting law’s requirements. In practice, many governmental bodies also record other aspects or details of meetings. How comprehensive such meeting minutes are may vary widely from one body to the next. However, so long as the body is maintaining some type of record of all motions and roll call votes, the open meetings law’s requirement is satisfied.
It is important to note that this answer only concerns the open meetings law’s requirements. Other statutes outside the open meetings law may prescribe particular minute-taking requirements for certain governmental bodies and officials. Such requirements may exceed what is required by the open meetings law.
Although not required by the open meetings law, in an effort to increase government openness and transparency, it is recommended that governmental bodies keep minutes of all meetings. The open meetings law does not specify a timeframe in which a body must create a record of all motions and roll-call votes. However, as a best practice, it is advisable that the motions and roll call votes of a meeting of a governmental body be recorded at the time of the meeting or as soon thereafter as practicable.
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