Man acquitted of charges in 2015 crash with bicyclists in Fitchburg

A rural Oregon man was acquitted Thursday night of charges that he struck two bicyclists on a rural Fitchburg road nearly three years ago.

John Dohm, 63, was acquitted of two counts of second-degree reckless endangerment and two counts of reckless driving causing injury for the Aug. 26, 2015, incident in which his car came into contact with the cyclists, who were on a professional cycling training ride, causing them to crash.

The crash followed a confrontation a few minutes earlier, the cyclists testified, in which Dohm closely passed the cyclists, who were training for professional road races.

The cyclists, Joseph Maloney and Maxwell Ackermann, testified during Dohm’s three-day trial that Dohm angrily ran into Maloney with his black Jaguar, causing a chain reaction that sent the two tumbling off their bikes and into a ditch, leaving them with multiple scrapes and bruises.

A jury of six men and six women acquitted Dohm after deliberating for about four hours. Dohm happily embraced his lawyers, Charles Giesen and Jessica Giesen, after the verdicts were read.

Charles Giesen characterized the testimony of the two bicyclists as being full of “lies and inconsistencies.” In their testimony, he said, Maloney and Ackermann disagreed about such things as where on the road they were positioned relative to one another, where on the road Dohm stopped after he passed them for the first time, whether Dohm angrily told them to “get off the road” and about the way that Dohm “aggressively” honked his horn at them, whether it was in staccato bursts or a long blast.

Giesen said that jurors should especially disbelieve Maloney’s testimony. Maloney testified that he was hurt so badly in the crash that he didn’t ride a bicycle for more than a week after the incident, and yet a photo posted on Facebook the next day showed him on a bike leading the Shorewood High School mountain bike team.

The clothing and helmet that Maloney sent to police as evidence, which he said he wore the day of the crash, were different from the clothes and helmet he was wearing in photos taken at the crash scene, Giesen said. Maloney testified he no longer had the clothes he actually wore.

“I submit you should give no weight to Joseph Maloney because he’s a proven liar time and time again,” Giesen said.

But state Assistant Attorney General Emily Thompson said the clothing wasn’t important. Maloney misremembered which clothes he was wearing that day and sent in the wrong set, she said, which was a “dumb move” but it didn’t disprove all of the other evidence in the case.

Giesen also argued that the two cyclists stand to gain from prospective civil judgments against Dohm, but Thompson argued that neither man has filed any lawsuit against Dohm, and Maloney testified he had no intention to do so.

Former Rising Sun owner fined $4,000

A former co-owner of the Rising Sun bathhouse was fined $4,000 plus court costs Thursday after he was found guilty of conspiring to run a house of prostitution.

Charles Prindiville, 65, of Madison, was found guilty of the felony charge by Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz after a plea agreement led to the dismissal of a second count.

Prindiville pleaded no contest to the first count. Berz then accepted the sentencing recommendation agreed upon by lawyers for both sides, which also required Prindiville to provide a DNA sample.

The hearing ended Prindiville’s long battle with authorities that started on Oct. 20, 2010, when police raided the bathhouse, formerly at 117 W. Main St., and his Middleton home, which he shared at the time with his former wife and bathhouse co-owner, Catherine Prindiville. Similar charges are pending against her and the Rising Sun’s accountant, Donald W. Goodweiler.

A 17-page criminal complaint claims that Rising Sun customers paid money for sex acts that ranged from touching and fondling to intercourse. Prosecutor Matt Moeser told Berz that the long investigation found no evidence that Prindiville ordered Rising Sun employees to have sex with clients or take drugs at the bathhouse when Prindiville co-owned it from 2003 through 2010. He said later that no evidence linked Prindiville to human trafficking.

Moeser told Berz that the Rising Sun has been closed since early 2017.

Prindiville’s attorney, Charles Giesen, said his client accepted the plea agreement even though it was likely that a judge would have dismissed the charges because his rights to a speedy trial were violated.

“He was arrested more than seven years ago. Any time it takes longer than a year (to go to trial) is presumably prejudicial,” Giesen said.

A trial was scheduled for later this year.

Giesen also said the facts of the case were driven by a detective for the Madison Police Department who is under investigation for lying in another case. The Prindiville case’s lead detective, Maya Krajcinovic, is on leave after she was accused of not taking a sexual assault kit to the state Crime Laboratory and lying about whether she took it or the reasons why it was not taken, according to Giesen. He said he received the information from Moeser.

Krajcinovic was key in building the case against the Prindivilles and Goodweiler that included tax fraud. An investigation by the state Department of Revenue found no tax violations, Giesen said.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval confirmed that Krajcinovic is on “paid leave pending review of an internal personnel matter that has absolutely nothing to do with the Rising Sun case.”

Pindiville accepted the plea agreement because his health is deteriorating, and stress from the case is a contributing factor, Giesen said. He said Prindiville has hepatitis C and bile duct problems that have enlarged his liver.

Giesen said the police were rarely called to the Rising Sun during the 40 years it was in operation and that no employees were forced to do anything against their will.

“It was consenting adults,” he said.

Outside the courthouse following the hearing, Prindiville said he felt relieved that the case against him is over. “It has been a long haul,” he said.

Catherine Prindiville, 58, and Goodweiler, 71, both of Middleton, are scheduled to go to trial in September.


Wisconsin Court Orders New Trial in Farmer, Warden Standoff

By TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A farmer who got into a wrestling match with conservation wardens that ended in an armed standoff deserves a new trial, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The high court ruled 4-2 that Robert Stietz's version of events provides enough facts to justify a self-defense argument, and the jury that convicted him should have been instructed on that argument.

According to court documents, Stietz was looking for trespassers on his Lafayette County property as the sun was setting on the last day of the gun deer season in November 2012. He was 64 years old at the time and was carrying a rifle as well as a handgun. He was wearing camoflauge but no blaze orange.

Two state Department of Natural Resources wardens noticed his car in a field and stopped to investigate. The three men encountered one another on Stietz's property.

The wardens were wearing blaze orange jackets with DNR insignia and badges on them, but it was almost dark and Stietz testified he didn't notice their clothing and took them for trespassers. He added that the wardens never clearly identified themselves, although he heard one of them mumble the word "warden."

When Stietz told them he was looking for trespassers and wasn't hunting, the wardens became agitated. He testified that one of them twice asked for his rifle, making him feel as if he was being attacked.

One of the wardens grabbed his coat and reached for the rifle. The three men grappled over the rifle, pointing the barrel every which way. Eventually the wardens wrestled the weapon free. The warden who ended up with the gun fell to the ground, then threw the weapon away.

The wardens then drew their handguns, prompting Stietz to pull his. He said he thought, "My God, he's going to shoot," and that he told the wardens he had a right to protect himself. A standoff ensued. Stietz finally realized the men were wardens when one radioed for help, and he surrendered when sheriff's deputies arrived.

A jury convicted him in 2014 of resisting an officer and pointing a gun at an officer. He was sentenced to a year in prison.

Stietz argued on appeal that Lafayette County Circuit Judge James R. Beer improperly refused to instruct the jury on self-defense, robbing him of his right to present a defense in court.

The Supreme Court agreed with him. Justice Shirley Abrahamson, writing for the majority, said it's clear that a rational jury might have come to a different conclusion if they had been informed about self-defense. A reasonable jury could decide that Stietz truly believed the wardens were trespassers and that he feared for his life.

"In sum, the jury could conclude that the defendant threatened to use force as he reasonably believed necessary to prevent or terminate the interference with his person," Abrahamson wrote.

Justices Annette Ziegler and Michael Gableman dissented. Writing for both of them, Ziegler said it's a wonder the wardens didn't shoot Stietz and that his case isn't about self-defense.

She cited the wardens' testimony at trial that they clearly identified themselves, Stietz was aggressive and they became worried for their safety when Stietz wouldn't hand over his rifle. Stietz initiated the wrestling match by striking one of the wardens in the stomach with the rifle butt, they testified.

The state Department of Justice represented the wardens. Agency spokesman Johnny Koremenos called the decision disappointing. Lafayette County District Attorney Jenna Gill didn't immediately respond to a phone message inquiring about whether she will try Stietz again.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Oral Arguments: State v. Stietz

On February 15, 2017, Charles W. Giesen orally argued the case of State of Wisconsin v. Robert Stietz to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The Supreme Court briefs, co-authored by Charles and Jessica Giesen, presented the following three issues:

  1. Did the Court of Appeals deny Stietz’s federal and state constitutional rights to present a complete defense of self-defense by weighing his credibility and requiring more than “some evidence,” even if inconsistent, to support a self-defense instruction?

  2. Did the Court of Appeals deny Stietz’s federal and state constitutional rights to present a defense by forbidding arguments that Stietz was defending himself against two men he reasonably believed were armed trespassers?

  3. Did the Court of Appeals contradict the Supreme Court’s decision in State v. Hobson, 218 Wis. 2d 350, 577 N.W.2d 825 (1998), by foreclosing a self-defense claim against wardens who Stietz did not know were law enforcement officers; were not claiming to make an arrest but were only trying to disarm a man without apparent right; and were not acting peaceably in any event but were trying to violently disarm a lawfully armed man? 

A decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court is expected in late spring.

Full video of oral arguments can be found here.

Child exploitation charge against Poynette man dropped

The Columbia County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday dropped felony child exploitation charges against a Poynette man accused of inappropriately filming himself with a 5-year-old foster child.

“I don’t think that going forward with the felony that was originally charged in this would be beneficial to anyone — Mr. Skare, the victim, the public,” said Assistant District Attorney Cliff Burdon at the hearing. “I don’t think the things that he did that are outlined in the probable cause warrant him to be branded as a felon or as a sex offender.”

Jay Skare, 58, was charged in Jan. 2014 with sexual exploitation of a child, accused of making a sexually explicit video with a 5-year-old girl.

“Mr. Skare felt he had no choice but to do this, because she wasn’t talking to the police,” Giesen said according to court documents. “And that’s why those recordings, although they may not have mentioned Mr. Skare specifically, are important, to show she’s been groomed. Mr. Skare’s assessment of this was correct and it supports his having acted in good faith.”

Full Article Here

Giesen Law Offices Names New Partner: Jessica J. Giesen

Giesen Law Offices, S.C. announces the return of Jessica J. Giesen to the law firm as of July, where she rejoins in a new role as Vice President and Partner. Jessica left the firm in 2010 to take a position in the luxury retail industry, working for Versace and then Ralph Lauren in New York City and most recently serving as head of the North American Marketing & Public Relations departments at Triumph Motorcycles. Jessica rejoins the law practice with primary focuses on criminal defense, civil litigation and family law. Giesen Law Offices, S.C., is a full-service law firm based in downtown Madison representing individuals and businesses in a wide range of legal matters and litigation.

Charges dismissed against driver accused of hitting cyclists

A Dane County judge on Wednesday dismissed felony charges against an Oregon man who was charged with striking two bicyclists as they rode on a rural Fitchburg road last summer.

Circuit Judge William Foust said that a diagram from an accident report showing a car driven by John Dohm, 61, swerving around the cyclists, was enough to find there was insufficient probable cause to show that Dohm had committed a felony.

Full article by Ed Treleven, Wisconsin State Journal, January 28, 2016

British Consulate Celebrates Women in Business

The British Consulate-General in Atlanta is celebrating local female entrepreneurs with U.K. connections as part of its “Week of Women,” designed by the country’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to showcase its initiatives in support of women around the world.

Consul General Jeremy Pilmore-Bedford hosted a luncheon on Friday, Oct. 30, for some 30 female entrepreneurs at his residence, an event co-organized with Theia Washington Smith, the Atlanta mayor’s director for female entrepreneurship.

The consulate throughout the week has been issuing digital profiles on its social media platforms of five influential women in business.

Among those profiled will be Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx Inc., which in 2012 became a $1 billion brand. She maintains strong ties with Virgin CEO Richard Branson, whose “Rebel Billionaire” apprentice show catapulted her to fame.

Others include:

  • Jessica Giesen, marketing director for Triumph Motorcycles’ North American operations, who is now in London helping plan the launch of a new 2016 model.

Full Article Here