Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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JUST DAYS AGO: Evers’ Parole Board Freed Green Bay YMCA Double Killer Without Victim’s Family Knowing

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Since 2019, Gov. Tony Evers’ Parole Commission has released hundreds of convicted criminals, freeing them early on parole mostly into Wisconsin communities, including more than 300 murderers and attempted murderers, and more than 47 child rapists.



A murder victim’s sister expressed shock when Wisconsin Right Now told her that her loved one’s killer was paroled on Oct. 4, 2022. She DIDN’T KNOW. Even AFTER the Evers’ administration was put on notice that multiple victims’ families were not notified of paroles, and despite the law requiring a reasonable effort to notify victims, IT HAPPENED AGAIN.

The Wisconsin Parole Commission, run by a new appointee of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, freed a double murderer and an attempted cop killer in October 2022, without at least one victim’s family being notified, even as the debate over Evers’ previous appointee’s paroles of killers and rapists rages in the Wisconsin governor’s race.

A Green Bay law enforcement source advised us of the parole.

On Oct. 4, 2022, Eric Vogliotti, a double murderer who shot two men to death in a Green Bay YMCA in a very high-profile case, walked out a prison door on parole. Before the double homicide, Vogliotti was convicted of firing a pistol “into the floor of a Juneau courtroom,” according to a 1987 article in the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

At the time of the trial, the prosecutor, Larry Lasee, said of Vogliotti, “What Mr. Vogliotti is is an executioner. He found them guilty of ‘bugging me.’ And for their crime, he sentenced them to death and he executed them.”

In the gubernatorial debate on Oct. 14, 2022, Evers was asked about paroles and responded by noting that he had asked his two-time appointee, former parole chair John Tate, to resign last June. He also claimed victim notification problems were limited to one case last May.

Horrifically, the sister of Thomas Mason, one of Vogliotti’s murder victims, learned about the parole from Wisconsin Right Now. We called to ask her for comment on October 25, 2022, and she expressed shock.

She told us she was not aware the killer was paroled. We have been reporting for more than a month that multiple victims’ families were not notified of past paroles, so Evers and other officials were well on notice that this is a problem.

“I was not aware he was paroled,” said Linda LaPrise, of Marinette, about the release of Vogliotti. LaPrise was told about the parole hearing, and objected by letter, but had no idea parole was granted over the family’s objection, she said.

Eric vogliottiEric vogliotti

State law says the state must make a reasonable attempt to notify victim’s families before an inmate is released on parole. State law says, “The department shall make a reasonable attempt to send the notice, postmarked at least 7 days before a prisoner is released on parole…” This was an issue in the Douglas Balsewicz case that led to Evers’ appointee John Tate’s resignation last spring.

“I’m going to dig into this tomorrow and make calls,” LaPrise said. “He got two life sentences. There should have been no parole.” She said she received letters for years each time parole was denied but wasn’t told that it was granted this time.

“I didn’t get one this time,” she said. “I’m processing it. I’m very disappointed, very disappointed. He got two life sentences. Life means life.”

Elizabeth Lucas, head of the Department of Corrections’ Office of Victim Services, confirmed in a court transcript that victims “are entitled to notice of parole decisions, if they are enrolled.”

LaPrise says she was enrolled. Lucas’s office notifies victims of denials and parole hearings, but she said the Parole Commission is supposed to notify victims when parole is granted.

These were discretionary paroles. The fact that a double killer and an attempted cop killer were strolling out of prison doors even as Republican Tim Michels was hammering him on parole may help explain why Evers has been almost silent on the topic, not even condemning the most brutal cases.

Through a source, we learned about the October releases. We then confirmed the tip by running the killers’ names in the state Department of Corrections database. The Parole Commission is now run by Evers’ new appointee, Christopher Blythe, a Madison lawyer who banned public comment from his first meeting last September and who blamed victims for problems with notifications.

Blythe has been Parole Commission chair since August 22, 2022, he said in the September meeting. He came out of retirement at the request of the governor to chair the parole board. Although the governor doesn’t sign of on paroles, he has great power to shape the direction of the commission via the appointment power.

We asked the Wisconsin Parole Commission for the exact dates of the parole grants and whether Blythe signed off on them as chair. We haven’t heard back yet. The Parole Commission chairman has final authority on paroles and signs off on them. The DOC database lists parole dates for the criminals that represent the dates they were freed, not the date of the grant, which are usually earlier than the DOC date. Parole grants are generally made about 30-60 days before the inmate is freed, however.

We previously sued the Wisconsin Parole Commission for 2022 names, but that request only ran through the date we made it, May 2022. Thus, the public has been flying completely blind when it comes to anyone freed after May 2022. There is no easy way for the public to learn who is being released without a name.

Michels has vowed to appoint a Parole Commission chair who doesn’t share Evers’ goal of reducing the prison population by 50%. Evers’ appointee Tate freed more killers and attempted killers in 3.5 years than former Gov. Scott Walker’s appointee freed in eight.

Eric Vogliotti, Double Murderer at Green Bay YMCA

Vogliotti was paroled on Oct. 4, 2022. His address is listed as unknown. He was serving two life sentences. Killers serving life prison terms do not qualify for mandatory release.

Eric vogliotti
Eric vogliotti

In 1987, Vogliotti’s crime was a top news story in Green Bay. According to old news stories from the time:

Vogliotti was 44 at the time of the crime, the son of a journalist. He was convicted of the first-degree murders of Thomas Mason, 22, and Charles Conrad, 25.

He used a .25 caliber automatic to kill Conrad and Mason. All three were living at the YMCA.

He told police that, when he tried to leave the TV lounge, one of the victims “put his legs across the door to stop me and I moved them and he put them back and then I shot him. Then the other guy got up and I shot him too.”

Conrad died of a chest injury, and Mason died of a bullet wound to the abdomen.

“He’s going to get what he deserves,” Mason’s sister, Linda, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette in 1988 when Vogliotti was convicted.

The prosecutor added, “The verdict shows that “this community does not tolerate this kind of conduct. Today Vogliotti is 81.

Eric vogliotti

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Trump Thwarts Haley in Her Native South Carolina, Rolls on to Michigan

Sweeping a fourth consecutive primary by a significant margin, former President Donald Trump left South Carolina victorious on Saturday and on a roll heading into Michigan on Tuesday.

Nikki Haley, two-term governor of South Carolina and a former United Nations ambassador in Trump’s administration, was overwhelmed in unofficial very early vote count totals. The race was called minutes after the closing of polls at 7 p.m. Eastern.

South Carolinians, who do not register by party and could choose to vote in either but not both primaries, in early voting exceeded the more than 131,000 votes cast – about 4% – in the Democratic primary on Feb. 3 when 96% chose President Joe Biden.

South Carolina has about 3.3 million registered voters and gets nine of the 538 Electoral College votes in November's general election.

At stake in the South’s first Republican primary were 50 delegates at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee on July 15-18. Twenty-nine went to Trump as the statewide winner; three delegates each go to winners in the seven congressional districts, respectively. Those results were still pending at time of publication, though Trump was projected to up his total to 44 of the state's 50.

"I have never seen the Republican Party so unified as it is right now," Trump said in a victory speech that began minutes after the polls closed. "You can celebrate for about 15 minutes, but then we have to get back to work."

The nation’s 45th president added to previous caucuses and primary wins in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, the first non-incumbent GOP candidate to open with such a sweep since 1976's primary and caucuses calendar change. Since 1980, only Newt Gingrich in 2012 won South Carolina's Republican primary without reaching the national ticket.

In a social media post in the final hour before polls closed, Haley wrote, "Filled with gratitude today. Getting to vote with my mom and my kids at my side is a memory I’ll cherish forever."

Immigration, inflation, energy, an America-first foreign policy and revenge from the 2020 loss to Biden have been hallmarks of the 77-year-old Trump’s campaign.

“No country could sustain what is happening to the United States of America,” Trump, during his victory speech, said of the ongoing situation at the U.S. border with Mexico. “Right now, our country is a laughing stock all over the world. Our country is going to be respected again, respected like never before.”

On the campaign trail in Rock Hill on Friday, Trump said Haley was staying in the race to help Democrats. The flip side is Haley’s supporters see Trump and his 91 criminal charges as the GOP choice that Democrats would want to face their candidate.

Trump also served up comments on race – sparking partisan critiques – when speaking to a friendly crowd at the Black Conservative Federation Gala in Columbia later in the evening.

Haley, 52, was in Greenville on Tuesday saying she’s campaigning to save the country, led by the topics of education, economy, immigration, homicides, fentanyl and foreign policy. She voted in Kiawah Island on Saturday morning, having spent Friday in Moncks Corner among other stops.

Haley says Trump brings chaos and will be unelectable in the general election, though national polls including The Center Square Voters’ Voice Poll disagree. In a Marquette Law School national poll released Wednesday, proposed 1-on-1 races have Haley defeating Biden 58%-42% and Trump beating Biden 51%-49%.

Prior to Saturday, Real Clear Politics' polling average showed Trump ahead of Haley 63%-32% in South Carolina. Nationally, the advantage climbs to 75%-17%.

While Haley has tirelessly been asked about stepping out of the race, campaign manager Betsy Ankney on Friday confirmed a “seven-figure” ad buy for Super Tuesday states. The March 5 primary schedule includes 15 Republican and 14 Democratic primaries.

(This is a developing story and will be updated.)

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Wisconsin GOP Congressmen: Evers Drew Congressional Maps He Wants Struck Down

(The Center Square) – Some of Wisconsin’s Republican congressmen say there is a problem with Gov. Tony Evers’ latest problems with the state’s political maps.

Evers this week asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take a look at the state’s congressional maps.

"MONDAY: I signed fair maps for Wisconsin’s Legislature," Evers tweeted Wednesday. "NEXT UP: fair maps for our congressional districts."

The liberal law firm The Elias Group has already asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reconsider the state’s congressional maps, just like the court reconsidered the state’s legislative maps.

The high court tossed those state maps back in December. But Wisconsin lawmakers ended the court’s review and replacement by passing Evers’ preferred maps for Assembly and Senate districts.

Western Wisconsin Republican Congressman Derrick Van Orden on Wednesday pointed out the Congressional maps are also Evers’ own.

“The maps are a 100% product of the Dems,” Van Orden said in a tweet. “Evers drew them. Zero Republicans voted for them. Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled them constitutional. US Supreme Court ruled them constitutional. This is a naked power Dem grab.”

WOW County Republican Congressman Scott Fitzgerald said the same thing.

“I’d like to remind @GovEvers that he is asking the State Supreme Court to review the Congressional maps HE drew,” Fitzgerald said in a tweet. “The map he is now seeking to overturn was drafted by Evers and based off a 2011 bipartisan map, approved by the liberals on the state Supreme Court and survived a challenge all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Evers said reviewing the Congressional maps is part of his effort to “do the right thing.”

"We want to end gerrymandering in Wisconsin at every level, so I’m asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to review our congressional maps to make sure those are fair, too."

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has not yet said what it plans to do with the challenge to the congressional maps.

school choice policies

Wisconsin Assembly Approves Plan to Splits Choice School Funding From Public Schools

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin is considering a massive shift in how public and choice schools get their money.

The Wisconsin Assembly approved the plan to decouple the Racine and statewide school voucher programs, replacing the local property tax money that currently pays for those programs with state dollars.

“Currently, legacy charter schools are completely funded by [general purpose revenues]. The Milwaukee Choice program will be funded completely by GPR by 2025,” Rep. Ellen Schutt, R-Clinton, said. “What this bill does, is says that new independent charter schools, and the rest of the choice program should also be funded by GPR and not by aid-reductions from the local school district.”

That would shift millions of dollars for choice schools in Wisconsin from local school districts to the state.

It would also mean a steadier and more reliable stream of dollars for choice schools.

“Decoupling resolves an issue that involves how the current funding mechanism affect public schools and property taxes. This has been a sore spot that creates unnecessary tension between public and private schools,” School Choice Wisconsin President Nic Kelly told The Center Square. “Decoupling is good tax policy that was already enacted for Milwaukee years ago. We want the rest of the state to be treated the same way.”

Decoupling would mean a boost for public schools. Schutt’s legislation would give public schools a one-time, 25% revenue limit increase. The legislature says that will cost as much as $351 million for the next school year.

Some public schools could end up losing money in general state aid, but the decouple legislation would hold them harmless.

“This bill will really help our public schools when they're setting their budgets every year, giving them some idea about how much money they truly will have,” Schutt added. “It will fix the confusion that is currently out there with the way we fund choice and charter, because it's different based on the type of school it is. We had some administrators come down to testify and say that this was really a great idea, and actually Gov. [Tony] Evers supported this idea when he was the superintendent back in 2015.”

Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, however said during debate on the plan that Evers’ office no longer wants to talk about decoupling.

The proposal next heads to the Wisconsin Senate.

Tyler August milwaukee drop boxes

Assembly Majority Leader Puts Responsibility on Milwaukee to Restore Faith in Vote Count

(The Center Square) – The number-two in the Wisconsin Assembly says if lawmakers can’t come to terms on an early count law, it is up to Milwaukee to restore the voters’ faith in their election operation.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said he doesn’t have the votes to pass Monday Count legislation. It would allow Milwaukee to count ballots the day before election day in order to avoid an after-midnight vote dump.

Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, said Republicans in the Senate should vote on the plan. If they don't, August said, then Milwaukee’s election managers need to act.

“It's incumbent upon the city of Milwaukee to get their act together and count those ballots during the day and have that done so that there isn't constantly this question about the processes in the city of Milwaukee,” August said.

Milwaukee uses a central count location, and election managers in the city say that slows down the counting of absentee ballots. Many times, that leaves a lull between when the votes from election day are tallied, and when the absentee vote count is delivered.

Critics say that lull, and the after-midnight ballot drop, leads to questions about election integrity in Milwaukee.

“People feel like the election is heading in one direction, [then] all the ballots come in at one time in the middle of the night, and it appears that there's some kind of nefarious nature to what's going on,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Tuesday.

Critics of the Monday Count plan also see room for something nefarious. They fear that if Milwaukee has an absentee ballot count ahead of election day, then someone can somehow manufacture an exact number of votes to win.

August said other communities in Wisconsin don’t have the same troubles as Milwaukee and said that’s part of the problem.

“When I go to vote in the city of Lake Geneva they are processing those absentee ballots, there are hundreds of them in Lake Geneva, as well as a smaller staff, less election workers than in the city of Milwaukee has, and they're able to get those done and part of their report that they send into the county clerk by like 9 p.m.,” August said. “So, Milwaukee needs to take a look at what they're doing when it comes to counting absentee ballots, and for their own sake to prove to the people that their processes are secure, and safe, and fair. And get those reports in well before the middle of the night.”

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Denver Schools Facing ‘Unprecedented Challenge’ With Influx of Migrant Students

Denver’s public school system has been taking in as many as 250 new students a week since the new year, which it attributes to the increase in the number of migrants arriving in the city.

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero called the situation an “unprecedented challenge” in a message to the community posted on the district’s website. The district said the influx of new students will cost an additional $837,000 “to support additional needs across the system.”

From July 1, 2023 to January 2024, there were 3,221 new-to-country students with more than 1,300 coming to Denver schools since Oct. 1, 2023, the district stated.

The district is hiring more staff to deal with the increase in students and focusing on hiring people who are bilingual, according to the superintendent.

“The pace of new arrivals has remained steady since the start of 2024, with roughly 200-250 students joining us each week,” a report to the school board stated last week.

On Feb. 5, the city of Denver started enforcing 42-day limits on migrants living in city-owned shelters.

“We are watching enrollment data closely over the next few weeks to see if/how our student population moves in response,” the report stated.

The school district provides a phone number to call “to speak to someone in your language.”

The district has struggled with dwindling enrollment since the pandemic. Enrollment reached 93,800 in the 2019-20 school year and then fell to 90,300 in the 2020-2021 pandemic year. In 2021-22, enrollment stayed about the same at 90,250 and then dropped to 89,200 in 2022-23.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has been sending migrants from Texas to sanctuary cities across the U.S. On Feb. 12, Abbott posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that Texas has bused more than 16,200 migrants to Denver.

"Texas will not stop until President Biden secures the border," Abbott stated on X.

Denver Public Schools did not respond to an email seeking comment.

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Wisconsin Assembly Eyes Limits on Governor’s Veto Powers

(The Center Square) – Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly are taking the first step to reign in some of the governor’s veto power.

Lawmakers on Tuesday took up Assembly Joint Resolution 112, which would change the Wisconsin Constitution to stop the governor from raising a tax or a fee on his own.

“Wisconsin's unique partial veto is considered one of the most powerful policy tools in the country,” Rep. Amanda Nedweski, R-Pleasant Prairie, told reporters. “From Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson's infamous Vanna White veto, to Democrat Gov. Tony Evers 402-year tax increase, we have seen abuse of the partial veto addressed with proposed constitutional amendments by legislatures nearly 30 times in the last century.”

Nedweski said this proposed constitutional amendment would apply to Evers specifically, but would apply to all future governor’s as well by banning the governor from single handedly increasing taxes or creating fees.

“The will of the people is the law of the land, not the will of the governor,” Nedweski added. “This would appropriately rebalance power between the executive and the legislature, and further restrict the executive from completely rewriting the law. The governor is not a legislator, and the partial veto was not intended to give the governor legislative power.”

Tuesday's vote was the first vote for the plan. It would need to pass the legislature again next year before it would go to the voters, likely next spring.

“We very narrowly crafted this legislation to address the specific situations that we believe members of the public would find the most egregious, the ability for a single person to increase taxes or fees on the people of Wisconsin with the single stroke of a pen,” Nedweski said. “The people should not be subjected to political trickery that does not reflect their will as represented by their legislators.”

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Robin Vos: Medical Marijuana Not Going to Happen This Year

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s assembly speaker is not calling his proposal for medical marijuana dead, but he says it’s not going to happen this year.

Speaker Robin Vos told reporters Thursday there are too many different views of marijuana to find a consensus on a strict-medical only plan.

“I think we have now seen, unfortunately, people who from the very beginning have said that they have concerns that this will lead to widespread recreational marijuana and many of my colleagues on the other side continue to say that that is their goal which of course that's their right,” Vos said.

Vos’ plan would create five state-owned marijuana dispensaries that would sell non-smokable marijuana to people with 15 specific health conditions.

Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate, specifically, don’t like the idea of state-owned pot shops.

“I still think we have the votes in the Assembly to pass it,” Vos added. “I've not had anybody come to me who was a supporter and say they have changed their position. But when we see that the Senate wants to have a more liberal version than one that we're willing to pass, it probably doesn't leave us enough time with the waiting days of the session to get an answer that both chambers can adopt.”

Democrats in Wisconsin have made no secret of their support for fully legal, recreational marijuana and never signed on to Vos’ plan either.

Wisconsin remains one of just 12 states without a medical marijuana law. Wisconsin is one of 26 states that has not legalized recreational marijuana.

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Trump’s First Criminal Trial Date in New York Scheduled for March 25

Former President Donald Trump’s first criminal trial date, in a case involving porn actress Stormy Daniels, will be March 25.

A New York judge rejected a request to dismiss the case from Trump. He faces charges in multiple states while commanding the lead for the Republican nomination in the presidential race.

His lawyers, appearing before Judge Juan Manuel Merchan, said the case will interfere with his campaign to return to the White House. Trump has three other prosecutions unresolved, one of which involved a district attorney under heavy scrutiny in Georgia on Thursday.

Trump’s defense lawyer, Todd Blanche, said the president should not be spending the next two months in preparation for a trial when he should be on the campaign trail. Trump, after the decision, said he would be in court during the day and “campaigning during the night.” It echoes previous statements he has made.

This New York case, with a prosecution led by District Attorney Alvin Bragg, was the first for the former president to be charged with a crime. Others followed in Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C.

Trump and his legal team say no crime was committed. Prosecutors say he falsified internal records kept by his company, hiding the true nature of payments that involve Daniels ($130,000), former Playboy model Karen McDougal ($150,000), and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen ($420,000). Prosecutors say the money was logged as legal expenses, not reimbursements.

Reportedly, the payments kept quiet accusations of sexual affairs, including birth of a child.

Cyrus Vance Jr., whom Bragg followed into the office, declined to pursue the case. The charges are punishable by up to four years in prison.