TORKELSON COMP. $165,963
Contract $98,000; Benefits $30,000
3rd highest paid of state's 424 admin.
Wis. DPI Supt comp. $121,307
Cost per student Mercer $24,910,
Wis. $12,942, Nation $10,667
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 422 Wis. schools




Saturday, April 6, 2019


Innocent Until Proven Guilty

3 PRESENT, 2 FORMER MERCER SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS CHARGED WITH CRIMINAL FELONIES


Deanna Pierpont, Noel Brandt, Micki Pierce-Holmstrom, Kelly Kohegyi and Denise Thompson have been charged with Class I criminal felony counts in the Iron County Circuit Court by District Attorney Matthew J. Tingstad. 

All five defendants have been ordered to appear before Circuit Court Judge Patrick J. Madden for initial appearances at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, April 22, the same day as the Mercer School Board meeting at 5 p.m.  At the initial appearances, dates for preliminary hearings will be set.  At some point, the defendants will be asked to enter pleas of guilty or not guilty and post bonds.  Eventually trial dates will be set.

Of course, in every criminal case the defendant must be considered innocent until proven guilty.

It is possible that Judge Madden may need to recuse himself from trying, at least, Pierpont and Kohegyi, in which case a judge from another county will be brought in.  Judge Madden is believed to be a longtime friend of the two defendants.

The crimes with which all five are charged are consider Class I felony offenses.  A Class I offense is punishable by up to 3 ½ years in state prison, fines up to $10,000, or both imprisonment and a fine. A Class felony is the least severe felony offense in Wisconsin.

The details of the alleged offenses are not spelled out in the Circuit Court case summaries, which were filed by District Attorney Tingstad.  However, in the State of Wisconsin vs. Deanna Pierpont, (Iron County Case Number 2019CF000014) she is charged with two counts of “Misconduct/Office-Act/Excess Authority, Wisconsin statute 946.12(2)".

That statute reads: “946.12(2)In the officer's or employee's capacity as such officer or employee, does an act which the officer or employee knows is in excess of the officer's or employee's lawful authority or which the officer or employee knows the officer or employee is forbidden by law to do in the officer's or employee's official capacity.”

It is believed that those charges stem from Pierpont’s alleged destruction of a video recording of the October 2017 Mercer School District annual meeting.  It is unlawful to destroy a public record, and video recordings made by a school would be considered a public record.

In a July 2018 page one Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article Pierpont is quoted as saying that she erased the recording. “I didn’t like what I saw…I just felt that I didn’t want that that out on the website,” Pierpont is quoted as saying.  Until then all Mercer School Board meetings had been recorded and put on the school’s website.

The video would show a turbulent incident in which Board member Noel Brandt confronted a Mercer resident who was trying to discuss what he called the district’s “pathetic” ACT scores.  A deputy sheriff intervened.  An audio recording of the incident and statements by the deputy sheriff and the Mercer resident may have been factored into the charges against Pierpont.

The charge against Noel Brandt may also stem from that October 2017 annual school district meeting fracas.  He is charged in “Iron County Case Number 2019CF000010 State of Wisconsin vs. Noel W Brandt” with the same “Misconduct/Office-Act/Excess Authority, Wisconsin statute 946.12(2)”.

Michele (Micki) Holmstrom, owner of Century 21 Pierce Realty in Mercer, is charged with same criminal felony count in “Iron County Case Number 2019CF000011 State of Wisconsin vs. Michele L. Holmstrom”.  Her charge may be the result of when she shouted out obscenities while the Brandt incident was occurring.  Although the video was erased, the audio recording was turned over to the sheriff’s deputy who investigated the cases.

The criminal felony charges against Colleen (Kelly) Kohegyi “Iron County Case Number 2019CF000012 State of Wisconsin vs. Colleen E. Kohegyi”, and Denise F. Thompson, owner of Tom’s CafĂ© in Mercer “Iron County Case Number 2019CF000013 State of Wisconsin vs. Denise F. Thompson" relate to an entirely different matter than the October 2017 meeting.

Their charges are for a violation of Wisconsin statute 948.69(2)(b) Falsely Exercise Function /Public Office.  That statute reads: “946.69  Falsely assuming to act as a public officer or employee or a utility employee.

946.69(2) (2) Whoever does any of the following is guilty of a Class I felony:

946.69(2)(b) (b) Exercises any function of a public office, knowing that he or she has not qualified so to act or that his or her right so to act has ceased.

Kohegyi and Thompson signed their names on a May 1, 2018, letter to the Wisconsin Department of Instruction as members of the Mercer School Board.  They were not on the board at that that time.

This litigation may extend over many months.  Meanwhile, please remember what was said at the start of this blog: these defendants must be considered innocent until proven guilty.

22 comments:

  1. Interesting that this was brought AFTER the election. I would think that all the commentary on all the mailings we have received from these people might have reeked of LESS THAN PROFESSIONAL. Maybe, Christa, attitude aside, would have been re-elected. That these people are being looked at by the State's Attorney at all, should give everyone some cause to be concerned. I saw the posts of late last night. I think that each of these people have had restless nights. Wondering how their friends will think of them now that they have, as a group, been under investigation sufficient to bring charges. Whatcha gonna be doin readers, at 10:30am on the 22nd?

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  2. I think that a lot of people will feel conned.

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  3. Pierpont, Kohegyi and Thompson were supporters of Bob Davis. Davis called them and their group “wonderful people.” Let’s hope he uses better judgment in handling school board matters. Mercer voters were certainly misled by him and these “wonderful people” in the recent election.

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  4. 5 people and now 5 lawyers making money from the private funds of the clients, not taxpayer funds.
    There is something that feels 'so right' about this!

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  5. "This litigation may extend over many months." We have watched for years. These will be long months for the 5. These will be justified to all of us who have watched over the years and been disgusted by the inaction of the court and the very people we entrusted with the education of our students. Add to this, the fact that DPI still has some outstanding issues to release. Mercer Theatre.

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  6. People should consider that this same group, with the exception of Mr. Brandt, were warned by the previous Iron County DA about their actions as board members. There are laws concerning what one can and can't do when holding office - and being responsible for the students and a $3M budget.

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  7. In looking at the comments of these previous school board members and their supporters, they are claiming that because the case is listed as 'filed only' that no charges have yet been filed, only that the case has been given to the DA and filed for review. A man named Micah Magma is posting these comments publicly on his Facebook page, and at least two defendants are commenting to him, expressing their appreciation for him (in their mind) setting the record straight.

    In case you are wondering about the veracity of Mr. Magma's claims, he is very wrong. And he is not doing the defendants a favor by posting that comment. There have been criminal charges filed, and these five are in significant legal jeopardy. Here's a link to a free legal Q&A site, where two Wisconsin lawyers explained what it means for a case to be listed as 'filed only.' https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/if-a-case-on-ccap-is-listed-as--filed-only--what-d-1414493.html

    It appears Mr. Magma reads this blog, so I hope he will check out this site and realize his post was inaccurate. While I certainly want justice to happen, I don't think any fair-minded person would feel justice is being served if the defendants believe false information and thus conclude they are not in serious legal trouble. The public also deserves to know the severity of what is happening instead of being misled into thinking this is not a big deal.

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    1. Micah Magma’s take on this situation is about as stupid as all the others he/she posted during the recent election in support of Torkelson candidates Davis and Chaney.

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    2. Micah Magma’s profile is obviously fake. That account should be reported to Facebook.

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    3. Let’s get this straight. As much of a spin as Brundage would like to put on this to cover her stupid statements of the past, the complaints were filed by a deputy sheriff after a lengthy investigation. Christa Reinert had nothing to do with it. Several Mercer citizens complained to the DA as early as last June and the DA had the sheriff’s department conduct a thorough investigation. Trying to put the blame on Mercer School Facts won’t work either. The alleged offenses were caused by the defendants not by MSF or anyone else.

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    4. IT WAS JUST DISCLOSED THAT MICAH MAGNA IS BILL BRUNDAGE.

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  8. Could it be that these charges were brought, as a tool, to bring pressure on these four to testify against Torkelson and/or Micki Pierce?

    Just a thought.

    Jim

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  9. You know what they say, "payback is a b****".

    I'm just thankful that actions of these 5 will finally be dealt with. I can only hope that the school administration will be next.

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  10. I hope the school board attorney Torkelson hired to do his dirty work realizes that she can’t by law represent any of the defendants and expect to be paid with taxpayer school funds.

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    1. Nope they are trying to get Lelyn Schmidt’s lawyer to represent them (Denise, Deanna & Kelly to be exact) The deafblind child that the parents removed from the district, knowingly that he has been the family’s lawyer against the Mercer School since September 2018 (MSF quote the write up’s on this page for his info)

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  11. Maybe you can answer this? Is the Mercer School website controlled by Torkelson? I also believe he is the one that would record the Mercer School Board meetings. Therefore, would he not have had a role in the deletion of the particular school board video in question?

    Then why is he not charged along with Pierpont?

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  12. Christa did nothing wrong but wanted our kids..and hoped her kids...would have had a chance at a great education where they lived. THese 5 didnt. To those who dont see this, there is no hope for you.... or your kids. Davis, we will be watching you. Learn from these 5.

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  13. I think Davis should be recalled personally! He thinks that band of 5 are "Wonderful People!" Go figure!!!!

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    1. He hasn't even been sworn in yet. And you can't recall a board member until after they have served one year in office.

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  14. What’s Brundage’s problem? She keeps trying to bring this back to Christa. The DA ordered the investigation and the sheriff’s deputy brought the charges. We don’t need people like this with their muddled thinking in Mercer.

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  15. If nothing else happened today, Micah Magma and the other CPA gang were exposed for their stupidity.

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  16. Mercer School FactsApril 7, 2019 at 9:35 AM

    Mercer School Facts will not post any comments which imply or assume the guilt of the five accused. They are presumed innocent until a court finds them guilty or not guilty. Nor will MSF post comments from individuals who are ignorant of how our judicial system works and suggest that the whole matter was conceived by a “hate group.” A number of people brought the matters on which the charges are based to the attention of the district attorney who then had the sheriff’s department conduct a thorough investigation. The district attorney brought the charges based on complaints from the sheriff’s department. Any twists or spins otherwise further discredits a small group which seems determined to want to assail well-meaning individuals and create dissention in our community. Enough comments have already been posted to this particular blog and no others will be posted.

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