Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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River Hills Police: DA Wouldn’t Charge Suspect Caught Sleeping in Stolen Car

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“A subject was in the stolen vehicle, surrounded by stolen items, with stolen property in his pocket and not even a Possession of Stolen Property charge” – River Hills police

River Hills police say the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office told them they wouldn’t charge a suspect they caught red-handed sleeping in a stolen vehicle with the keys in his pocket. He also had the vehicle owner’s ID from a home burglary and possessed methamphetamine, police say.

Update: 6 hours after River Hills police went public with the fact the DA’s office told them they wouldn’t charge the suspect with anything, and 5 hours after WRN blew the story up, the DA’s office informed the River Hills chief that they are now charging the suspect with receiving stolen property. We have also learned from a courthouse source that the Milwaukee DA’s office also refused to charge a SEPARATE robbery charge against the suspect referred to them by Milwaukee police last March.

Wisconsin Right Now has learned the suspect is Alan Hernandez-Meraz, 20 (DOB 9/4/02). We placed an open records request with the Milwaukee County Jail, where he was initially booked (according to the River Hills police chief), for more details on his background via the arrest-detention report and a mugshot.

Update: Per the Waukesha County Sheriff, Hernandez-Meraz is in that jail on an ICE immigration hold. Read that story here.

DA Chisholm’s spokesman Kent Lovern responded to our request for comment, saying, “The case is still under review by our office.” We would note that River Hills police say they were told by the DA that the case was NOT being charged.

There is an Alan Hernandez-Meraz who is wanted on a July 27, 2023, warrant out of Racine on criminal charges from that county for almost the same thing: Burglary, theft, and taking an auto without owner’s consent. He has the same birth year as the River Hills suspect, but a juxtaposed month/day in CCAP (4/9/02 vs 9/4/02). The River Hills police chief told us they believe the Hernandez-Meraz wanted in Racine is the same person as the River Hills suspect. There is a person on Facebook with that name, also from Milwaukee, who has posted a picture of guns. We are also trying to verify whether that is the same person.

Alan Hernandez-Meraz, with the same DOB as the River Hills suspect (9/4/02), has an open case out of Waukesha County for cocaine and marijuana possession. He was released on $1,500 cash bail in that case but didn’t show up for court and a warrant was issued, and bail was increased. He required a Spanish interpreter at his initial appearance in March 2023. Another warrant was issued and then bail was reduced to $250 on July 27, 2023. There was a “return on warrant” listed on August 2, 2023.

We spoke with River Hills Police Chief Milton Mrozak. He stressed that he doesn’t “do the district attorney’s job,” and he recognizes that the DA’s office has various pressures, such as caseload issues. However, he said the DA not prosecuting cases is “happening more,” and added, “it gets frustrating for officers and staff. They’re doing a job. They’re doing their best, knowing that probably there will be nothing coming from it other than a no process.”

In fact, the day before, a man led a River Hills officer on a police pursuit. It lasted about a mile before the person pulled over. Chisholm’s office wouldn’t charge that case either, the chief said.

Mrozak said investigating the stolen car situation took 24-48 hours and a lot of resources for a small department like River Hills.

The River Hills’ police statement comes on the heels of our reporting, starting in 2021, that Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm’s office does not charge about a large percentage of felonies (and a larger percentage of misdemeanors). Today, we reported on the findings of a new Wisconsin Policy Forum report that reveals Chisholm’s charging rate was even worse in 2022.

River Hills police cited that report, commissioned in part by the Argosy Foundation, in their statement. “A recent study from Wisconsin Policy Forum showed that only 39.7% of cases referred to the Milwaukee County DA’s Office in 2022 were actually charged,” they wrote.

In the recent car theft case, River Hills police wrote that, during the afternoon of July 22nd, “a resident’s home was burglarized. During the burglary numerous items were stolen and a vehicle was stolen out of the garage.”

Early the next morning, “roughly 14 hours later, we were able to find the vehicle in Milwaukee. The vehicle was parked and in the driver’s seat there was a subject sleeping. In his pocket were the vehicle’s keys and a card belonging to the homeowner,” police wrote. “Throughout the car were numerous items taken from the car. And also in the vehicle were documents that were stolen in a previous burglary in Racine County.”

The case was presented to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, according to police, “and they refused to go forward with any charges. No charges of Burglary, Theft of Movable Property, Operating a Vehicle W/O Owner’s Consent, or even Possession of Stolen Property. A subject was in the stolen vehicle, surrounded by stolen items, with stolen property in his pocket and not even a Possession of Stolen Property charge.”

We would note that the Milwaukee DA is refusing to release the names of people he doesn’t charge, denying our open records request for them in 2021. AG Josh Kaul’s office refused to rule on our open records complaint against Chisholm.

We filed an open records request with River Hills police for the police reports.

The chief told us that he believes that even if it couldn’t be proven that the suspect was the burglar, he doesn’t see why a receiving stolen property charge couldn’t be made. Although you’d have to prove the suspect knew it was stolen, he believes the facts, if taken by an aggressive prosecutor to a jury, could result in conviction. He believes there was probable cause for a burglary charge, too.

“In this case, I think that bar can be reached,” he said. “He had a person’s ID card and key fob and stuff. I think a jury could look at this and say, ‘This defense is crap.’ It entails the prosecutor having to work to make the case go.”

The chief said Alan Hernandez-Meraz invoked his right to stay silent.

 

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Wisconsin Lawmakers Push Questions About IDs For Illegal Immigrants, Voting

(The Center Square) – Some Wisconsin lawmakers are trying to calm fears about illegal immigrants getting IDs and voting in the state.

The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections and the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection held a hearing Thursday with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, some local election clerks and Fond du Lac County’s district attorney.

“We're not trying to get anybody into a bad spot here, or in a corner, or make accusations on that level,” Sen. Dan Knodl, R-Germantown, said. “We want our clerks, who are already stressed enough, to know that we are here to be there as an assist to them.”

Rep. Scott Krug, R-Nekoosa, said he wants to make sure voters have faith in Wisconsin’s electoral process.

“This is one of the topics that hit our inboxes quite a bit the last three months or so,” Krug added. “We thought it’s pretty important just to vet it out, to get all the information out to the public.”

The Wisconsin Elections Commission was invited to Thursday’s meeting but didn’t attend because commissioners were having a meeting of their own. But that left lawmakers’ questions unanswered.

Wis-DOT Deputy Secretary Kristina Boardman said Wisconsin is known as a strict voter ID state.

“I want to make very clear that Wis-DOT is required to provide free identification cards for U.S. citizens that request them for the purposes of voting, and that to be eligible for that free identification card one must be a U.S. citizen and at least 17 years of age,” Boardman said. “Wis-DOT staff do not determine voter eligibility or register anyone to vote. Someone who has a Wisconsin ID or a driver's license is eligible to register to vote online, and that information will be confirmed with Wisconsin DMV systems to ensure that the information entered for voter registration is consistent with the DMV's records

Boardman said in Wisconsin, less than a fraction of one percent of ID requests are fraudulent.

“We put together [a] case activity report, assemble all of the documentation that we have, we have the investigator that had the case pull that together, and we do refer that to law enforcement so that they can take whatever action is appropriate,” Boardman added. “We note what statutes we believe may have been violated. And then it's up to law enforcement to take action.”

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Senate Republicans Override Evers’ Vetoes

(The Center Square) – On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate voted to override nine vetoes from Gov. Tony Evers, including the vetoes that scuttled PFAS clean-up money, millions of dollars that were earmarked for hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls and a plan that would allow advanced practice registered nurses to work more independently.

“The legislature has passed hundreds of bills to solve problems facing Wisconsin businesses and families. Most of these bills were signed into law, but many were vetoed by a governor more focused on politics than policies that help everyday Wisconsinites,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Tuesday. “Overriding the governor’s obstructive vetoes is the last, best way to address these critical issues.”

The override votes came one day after Evers sued the legislature over nearly $200 million that is attached to some of his vetoes.

Most of that money is the $125 million that’s supposed to go toward PFAS clean up in Wisconsin.

“For the fifth time this legislative session, I voted to provide Wisconsin families with the largest investment in clean drinking water in state history – five more times than every Democrat legislator in this state combined. The bill that Gov. Evers vetoed (SB 312) would have created a grant program that targets this critical funding to areas of the state most heavily impacted by PFAS contamination while protecting innocent landowners from financial ruin,” Sen Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said.

Evers has accused the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee of obstructing his plans to clean up Wisconsin’s drinking water, and of delaying his other actions across the state.

LeMahieu said Evers is simply playing the game.

“While Gov. Evers plays politics, the legislature will continue to do the right thing on behalf of the people of our state,” LeMahieu added.

Senate Democrats responded with game-playing accusations of their own.

“Coming in to do all these veto overrides was clearly a stunt to try to appeal to voters ahead of the fall election,” Den. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said. “Clearly Republicans were hearing from things in their district and wanted political cover. I don't think they got political cover today. I think what they got was people realizing just how afraid they are.”

But Tuesday’s veto overrides are largely symbolic.

While Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate have a veto-proof majority, Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly do not.

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Trump Holds Lead Over Biden Heading Toward November

With less than half a year until the 2024 presidential election, former President Donald Trump holds a sizable lead over incumbent President Joe Biden in several swing states.

While the overall national polling varies and shows a tighter race, Trump holds significant leads in several swing states.

According to Real Clear Politics, Trump leads in a slew of key battleground states like Arizona (+5.2), Georgia (+4.6), Michigan (+0.8), Nevada (+6.2), North Carolina (+5.4), Pennsylvania (+2.0), and Wisconsin (+0.6).

Other polling has shown Trump with a dominant lead in the Sun Belt while performing less well against Biden in some rust belt swing states.

“As the old saying goes, good gets better and bad gets worse, and it’s clear President Biden is in bad shape right now,” Colin Reed, a Republican strategist, former campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and co-founder of South and Hill Strategies, told The Center Square. “Five and a half months is an eternity in politics, and there’s theoretically still time to right the ship, but it’s getting late early for the president, especially when Father Time remains undefeated and doubts about his age continue to grow. “

According to the Real Clear Politics’ national polling average, Trump leads Biden 46.1% to 44.9%.

A New York Times poll released this week showed leads for Trump in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania but slightly trailing Biden in Wisconsin, raising concerns among supporters.

Trump’s lead has been in large part fueled by minority voters flocking to his side.

Meanwhile, Biden’s approval rating has plummeted since taking office. While that is not unusual for incumbents, Biden’s approval is lower than recent presidents.

Gallup recently released polling data showing that in the 13th quarter of Biden’s presidency, he averaged a 38.7% approval rating, worse than Trump at the same time in his term.

“None of the other nine presidents elected to their first term since Dwight Eisenhower had a lower 13th-quarter average than Biden,” Gallup said.

Axios reported this week that Biden and his team think the polls don’t represent Americans’ actual feelings and that the president’s position is strong.

“They're still 50% (well 45%) to win, per betting markets,” pollster Nate Silver wrote on X. “But Biden has been behind Trump in polls for a year now. His approval is in the tank, and voters have been clear they think he's too old. If Trump wins, history will not remember Biden kindly.”

Meanwhile, Trump spends valuable campaign time in a series of court appearances for his myriad of federal prosecution court dates.

“I’m under a gag order,” Trump told reporters after a court appearance Tuesday. “Nobody has actually seen anything like it ... I'm beating him in every poll and I have a gag order, so I think it's totally unconstitutional."

Republicans have blasted Biden for Trump’s prosecution, accusing Biden of using the Justice Department against his political opponent.

“Despite Far Left Democrats’ illegal election interference, President Trump is beating Joe Biden in the polls!” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote on X Tuesday. “Voters see right through the sham Biden Trials and know President Trump is the best choice for president.”

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