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Man who has waged paper war on county back in prison PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 21:15

Magritz sentenced to 18 months for filing bogus deed to rural land he lost

It’s back to prison for Steven Magritz, the 70-year-old man who has harassed Ozaukee County and its officials with fraudulent documents since losing his Town of Fredonia property to tax foreclosure in 2001.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams sentenced Magritz to 18 months in prison and three years of extended supervision last week for filing what he called a “confirmation deed” with the Register of Deeds Office in 2011 — a deliberate attempt to cloud the county’s ownership of the property, District Attorney Adam Gerol said.

Earlier this month, after listening to a day-and-a-half of testimony and deliberating for less than an hour, a jury found Magritz guilty of one felony count of criminal slander of title, the same crime he was convicted of in 2002 and sentenced to prison for in 2003.

During the Feb. 11 sentencing hearing, Gerol said Magritz’s actions and recalcitrant attitude have perplexed a court system that now must fashion a sentence for a man who will turn 71 next month.magLG

“This case, since its conception, has been a conundrum,” he said. “What is to be done with a man who refuses to be bound by our laws?”

Gerol described Magritz as an intelligent man, but one whose distorted world view has cost him his property and his liberty. From the onset of the county’s foreclosure actions, Gerol said, Magritz thumbed his nose at a legal process that, had he chose to participate in it, would have afforded him recourse.

“He seems to see his life as a life of pretext, and not lawful protest,” Gerol said. “His crowning achievement was to refuse to pay property taxes, then completely abuse the process.”

Magritz defended himself during a sometimes odd trial, at one point denying he was the Steven A. Magritz named in the criminal complaint.

“I am a man created in the image of God,” Magritz said. “I am not a name. I am a man.”

Gerol said Magritz was competent to stand trail and, at least by the legal definition, sane.

“There’s a definition of insanity that is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” he said. “That fits in many ways.”

Magritz, who has contended his home and land were not subject to property taxes, launched his campaign against officials after the county seized his 62-acre property on Shady Lane off Highway I in the Town of Fredonia through tax foreclosure proceedings and evicted him and his wife from their home in 2001. Magritz had not paid property taxes since 1997 and owed about $30,000.

The property, which includes sprawling woodlands along the Milwaukee River, is now part of the county’s adjacent Hawthorne Hills Park.

Magritz retaliated by filing a slew of false documents, including involuntary bankruptcy petitions and fake liens, against a number of county officials. That resulted in the cancellation of credit cards and continuing credit problems for some officials.

The filings were investigated by a special state Domestic Security Unit created by then-Attorney General Jim Doyle, and Magritz was charged in Dane County Circuit Court with seven counts of criminal slander of title in May 2002.

Seven months later, a jury convicted him of all counts, and in January 2003, Magritz was sentenced to five years in prison.

After serving his time and completing 18 months of probation, Magritz, who lived in a Port Washington apartment at the time, filed his confirmation deed with Ozaukee County in November 2011. 

“The moment he was off supervision, we again started to get these pseudo legal letters ... legal gibberish,” Gerol said. “Without some type of significant sentence and control, this is a gentleman who won’t be deterred.”

Two weeks after filing the bogus confirmation deed, Magritz was charged with a felony. A court summons sent to his home was returned to the Clerk of Courts Office with a red stamp on it that read, “Refused for fraud.” Then he disappeared. 

Nearly four years later, in September 2015, Magritz was arrested in Waukesha County and transported to the Ozaukee County jail, where he remained until his sentencing.

Gerol, noting Magritz refused to be fingerprinted and have his photo taken once in custody, would likely have been free while awaiting trial had he simply responded to the summons by appearing in court in 2011.

“The fact he’s been locked up is a shame, and it’s entirely his fault,” Gerol said.

In court last week, attorney Gary Schmaus, who was appointed by Williams to be Magritz’s standby counsel, said Magritz did not intend any harm by filing the confirmation deed. He meant only to correct errors in previous deeds to the property before filing a federal lawsuit in an effort to reclaim his land.

Williams said, “No one bought that. This court didn’t buy it. It’s just a bunch of gibberish.”

Magritz had little to say during his sentencing.

“If at any time in the past it appeared I consented to these proceedings, I did not,” he said. 

Williams responded, “I think the defendant pretty much summarized it right there.”

Referring to Magritz as a “paper terrorist,” Williams said the fact Magritz was not deterred by his previous conviction and prison term “is a major flaw in the defendant’s character.”

Magritz faced a maximum three years in prison and three years of extended supervision. His sentence of 18 months behind bars and the maximum amount of supervision was recommended by Gerol.

While under court supervision, Magritz is not to file any documents with any court or send letters to official without the approval of his probation agent.

 
Teenager who made sex offer, threatened girl sent to prison PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by BILL SCHANEN IV   
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 20:08

Former Port High student guilty of soliciting a child for prostitution, possessing child porn sentenced to three years

A teenager who was 17 when he offered to pay a fellow Port Washington High School student to have sex with him, then threatened to blackmail her when she refused, was sentenced to three years in prison last week.

Samuel P. Green, now 18 and most recently living in Iowa, was also sentenced by Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland to 10 years of extended supervision.

Green pleaded guilty to felony counts of soliciting a child for prostitution and possession of child pornography in connection with text messages he sent to a 15-year-old girl in 2014.

Following up on a tip from Saukville police, who investigated another case involving Green, Port Washington police officers in April 2015 interviewed the 15-year-old Port Washington girl, who said she met Green the previous school year at Port High when she was a freshman and he was a junior.

The girl said that in June 2014, she and Green exchanged messages via Facebook, which led to a text message exchange in which Green offered to pay the girl for sex.

When she refused, Green, who had obtained a photo of the girl naked, threatened to send the picture to police, an apparent boyfriend and other people.

According to the criminal complaint:

The girl texted, “Sorry I can’t do this. It feels wrong. I’m so sorry.” 

After Green texted “I’ll send out the nudes to everyone,” the girl replied, “No u can’t force me cuz that’s called rape.... I’m not ready for sex.”

She asked Green if “he likes to scare girls and rape them.”

Green replied, “I don’t rape girls. I’ve lured them into having sex with me.”

During last week’s sentencing, Voiland said, “That sounds a lot like rape to me.

“The really troubling aspect of this — what makes it really serious — are the threats that were made to the victim.”

Assistant District Attorney Patti Wabitsch noted this wasn’t the only time Green propositioned a girl.

In November 2014, Green pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of using a computer device to send vulgar messages to a 13-year-old Saukville teenager earlier that year.

According to that criminal complaint, Green sent messages to the girl offering to pay her $80 to have sex with him.

The girl said she told Green to stop contacting her. 

“I will leave you alone if I get to see you nude,” Green wrote, according to the complaint.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy withheld a jail sentence and placed Green on probation for one year. The judge also ruled that Green’s criminal record would be expunged if he completed probation.

But within months, Green violated the conditions of his probation, according to a report from a Department of Corrections agent. He agreed to stricter supervision rules so he could remain on probation, but violated those rules as well.

Ultimately, his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to time he had already served in jail.

In court last week, Green’s attorney, Matt Last, described his client as a teenager whose actions were influenced by a troubled high school career during which he struggled for acceptance and was bullied. He said Green would benefit from counseling.

“Mr. Green is a young man who clearly has a number of issues that need to be addressed, and addressed quickly,” Last said. “He does recognize the need to be punished, but I feel in addition to a punishment, there needs to be a component to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Last recommended Green be sentenced to 18 months in prison and five years of extended supervision.Daily Press

“I don’t view Mr. Green as someone who will continue to prey on young individuals,” he said. “I do believe if we can get to the bottom of what’s causing this behavior, it can be corrected.”

However, Voiland, who essentially followed the prosecutor’s recommendation, decided on a more severe sentence and as conditions of Green’s extended supervision ordered him not to have contact with the victim or girls under the age of 18 or possess devices, including cell phones, capable of accessing the Internet without the approval of his probation agent. 

The judge also ordered Green to obtain his high school equivalency diploma.

 
Residents warned about phone scam that uses IRS ploy PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 10 February 2016 20:07

Area residents are being warned about a phone scam used by callers pretending to be with the Internal Revenue Service.

The Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department and police departments in Port Washington, Grafton and other communities issued alerts after several people reported hearing from callers who demanded money.

According to authorities, the callers claim to be IRS officials and say immediate payment of taxes is due. The callers demand that money be paid without allowing a chance to question or appeal the amount.

The scam, which often uses a recorded message, typically requires payment using a specific method such as a debit or credit card. Callers usually threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement officials to make an arrest if payment is not received.

“My concern is the mention of the IRS and trouble with their agency can cause people to panic and not think clearly before acting,” Port Washington Police Officer Steven Footit said.Daily Press

Footit urged residents who receive such calls to tell the caller of their concerns and say they are going to check with their local police department before continuing the conversation. Residents should then contact police.

Residents who believe the call is legitimate and that they may owe taxes are urged to call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to discuss their options.

Residents can also contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov and use the “FTC complaint assistant” to report what they believe is a scam.

 
Town of Grafton residents warned about burglaries PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by STEVE OSTERMANN   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 19:36

Reports of burglaries in the Town of Grafton have prompted the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Department to warn residents about the possibility of their properties being targeted by thieves.

According to a department spokesman, burglaries were reported Thursday, Jan. 21, and Tuesday, Jan. 26, in the town.

On Jan. 21, electronics and other valuables were stolen from a residence near Ulao Parkway and Highway 32 between 7:45 a.m. and noon. There were signs of forced entry at the rear of the building.

In the Jan. 26 incident, electronics, jewelry and other items were stolen from a residence at Terminal Road and Highway W between  8 a.m. and 3 p.m. There was a forced entrance at the front of the building.

“Both break-ins occurred near each other, so we believe they may be related,” said Lt. Marshall Hermann, head of the department’s detective bureau.

Hermann said it is possible that the thieves may be casing homes or using a scheme to determine if the residences are occupied.

A common tactic, he said, is for a suspect to knock on the door and, if someone answers, to make up a reason for being there. The visitors may offer bogus roof repairs, ask for directions or say they are looking for a lost dog, Hermann said.

If no one answers the door, the thieves assume the residence is unoccupied and may force their way into the building, he added.

Hermann said his department is also continuing to investigate four burglaries at houses in May and October 2015 in rural parts of Grafton, Port Washington and Saukville.

The department is asking the public to watch for suspicious behavior in its neighborhoods, including slow-moving vehicles and strangers walking around yards and knocking on doors.

Residents are asked to call the department at 284-7172 immediately or text “OZSO + your tip” anonymously to 847411. Daily Press

 
City will seek grant to help fund flooding fix PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 19:34

Officials decide to apply for as much as half of $1 million project cost even though problem affects only 11 houses 

Port Washington officials agreed Tuesday to seek a grant that could pay as much as half of the $1 million cost to mitigate persistent flooding on the city’s west side during big storms.

But the decision didn’t come easily. The $6,800 cost of hiring the project consultant Stantec to prepare the grant application was questioned by some aldermen after they learned the flooding primarily affects only 11 houses.

“How big a deal is this?” asked Ald. Bill Driscoll. “If my basement floods every 100 years, I don’t think that’s a big deal.

Noting that the city would still have to come up with roughly $500,000 for the project if it received the grant, Driscoll asked, “Is it cheaper to say, ‘Here, let us help you move’?”

So-called hundred-year storms, which cause the most severe problems, don’t occur every 100 years, Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.

Whitefish Bay experienced 100-year storms in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2010, he said.

City officials have looked at the flooding issues for decades, City Administrator Mark Grams said.

“We’ve been looking at this for the last 25 years,” he said, noting that there are three or four houses most severely affected. 

Ald. Dan Becker supported applying for the grant, saying, “I don’t want to say we buried our head in the sand, but ...

“We’ve got an area that hasn’t been addressed. This is infrastructure, too. If I lived there, I’d be looking for some help.”

Ald. Paul Neumyer agreed.

“This is a lot of money, but we have to at least make an attempt,” he said. “I wouldn’t want my house to flood, either.”

The proposed solution includes improving stormwater ponds in the Spinnaker West Subdivision and using a portion of City Park as a temporary pond during heavy rainfalls to slow the flow of water heading east, then aid the flow of water by improving several culverts and grading east of that area.

Rich Klein of Stantec told officials that one of the ways in which the work is done — recreating a stream rather than directing the water into a sewer — is something that gets granting agencies excited. 

Although only about 22% of people applying for the grant actually receive it, Klein said, the fact that the stream is being restored leads him to believe the city will receive funding — and could receive other grants for the work as well.

That persuaded aldermen, who voted to apply for the funding.

“I feel pretty good that spending this money will net us something,” Ald. Dave Larson said.Daily Press

 
Businesses to discuss Ladies Night Out on Feb. 9 PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by Ozaukee Press   
Wednesday, 03 February 2016 19:32

A forum for business owners to provide input on downtown Port Washington’s Ladies Night Out will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

There will be sessions at 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., both at the Holiday Inn Harborside.

“Changes are being planned to keep participants interested in attending,” Port Washington Main Street Co-Director Cathy Wilger said. “We would like to hear from you, your ideas and feedback of what works and doesn’t work.”

Ladies Night Out, which is sponsored by Port Washington Main Street, will be held on Thursday, April 14.

Any business owner who cannot attend one of the Feb. 9 sessions may set up a time to discuss the event by calling Wilger at 268-1132.Daily Press

 
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