Meth distribution alleged

Rusk County Sheriff Jeff Wallace speaks Wednesday, May 26, at a press conference about charges against 11 individuals and their alleged involvement in distributing meth in the county.

 

Eleven individuals allegedly involved in a methamphetamine drug trafficking ring have been charged in Rusk County Circuit Court.

In speaking of how the 11 individuals were able to afford large amounts of methamphetamine, Rusk County Sheriff Jeff Wallace said, “It alarms me [the stimulus checks] have stimulated the drug world.”

As of now, the street value of the methamphetamine is not being released to due it being an ongoing investigation, according to Wallace.

Steven A. Betro, 61, Rosholt, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense. If convicted Betro could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 46 years incarceration or both.

Betro is being held in Rusk County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond with the conditions that he must maintain absolute sobriety. He is scheduled to appear for an initial appearance hearing on June 29 in Rusk County Circuit Court.

Jacob C. Channell, 37, Ladysmith, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine. If convicted Channell could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 46 years incarceration or both.

Channell is being held in Rusk County Jail on a $2,500 cash bond with the conditions that he must maintain absolute sobriety. He is scheduled to appear for an initial appearance hearing on June 29 in Rusk County Circuit Court.

Barrington M. Daniel, 51, Ellsworth, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense. If convicted Daniel could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 46 years incarceration or both.

Daniel is being held in Rusk County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond with the conditions that he must maintain absolute sobriety. He is scheduled to appear for an initial appearance hearing on June 29 in Rusk County Circuit Court.

Cody D. DeWitt, 30, Ladysmith, is being held in Rusk County Jail on a $5,000 cash bond with the conditions that he must maintain absolute sobriety. DeWitt appeared in court Tuesday, June 1 for an initial appearance hearing. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 2 in Rusk County Circuit Court.

Rita D. Hryniweiecki, 44, Ladysmith, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense, as a repeater. If convicted Hryniweiecki could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 52 years incarceration or both.

She is being held in Rusk County Jail and is scheduled to appear on June 29 for an initial appearance hearing.

Casey Kieleszewski, 35, Ladysmith, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense. If convicted Kieleszewski could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 46 years incarceration or both.

Kieleszewski is being held in Rusk County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond with the conditions that he must maintain absolute sobriety. He is scheduled to appear for an initial appearance hearing on June 29 in Rusk County Circuit Court.

Jeffrey Murphy, 57, Sheldon, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense. If convicted Murphy could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 46 years incarceration or both.

Murphy has been released from Rusk County Jail on a $2,500 cash bond with the conditions he must maintain absolute sobriety. He is scheduled for an initial appearance hearing on June 29 in Rusk County Circuit Court. 

Brittany N. Prestwood, 31, Ladysmith, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense, as a repeater. If convicted Prestwood could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 52 years incarceration or both.

Prestwood is being held on a $5,000 cash bond in Rusk County Jail. She is scheduled for an initial appearance hearing on June 29.

Maliki R. Sandley-Wangner, 27, Ladysmith, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense, as a repeater. If convicted Sandley-Wangner could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 52 years incarceration or both.

Nicholas G. Witt, 27, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense, as a repeater. If convicted Witt could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 52 years incarceration or both.

He is being held in Rusk County Jail and is scheduled to appear on June 29 for an initial appearance hearing.

Tyler J. Zimmermann, 30, Ladysmith, has been charged with one felony count of conspiracy to commit delivery or distribution of methamphetamine, second or subsequent offense. If convicted Zimmermann could be sentenced to a maximum of $100,000 in fines or 46 years incarceration or both.

Zimmermann is being held in Rusk County Jail on a $10,000 cash bond with the conditions that he must maintain absolute sobriety. He is scheduled to appear for an initial appearance hearing on June 29 in Rusk County Circuit Court.

According to the criminal complaint, an ongoing investigation began Jan. 1 and continued through May 6 by Rusk County investigators, Portage County Sheriff’s Office, Plover Police Department, Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigations and several other law enforcement agencies involved 11 individuals in several Wisconsin and Minnesota counties.

Witt and Hryniewiecki have allegedly been determined to be the main distributors and hubs of methamphetamine trafficking involved in this conspiracy.

Prestwood, Sandley-Wangner, Channell, Murphy and DeWitt purchased methamphetamine from Witt and Hryniewiecki and sold it throughout Rusk County from their residences and vehicles. Law enforcement have identified that these individuals sold methamphetamine to users and small or lower dealers.

Kieleszewski purchased methamphetamine from Witt and Hryniewiecki and then distributed it throughout Portage County and to Betro.

According to Wallace, county law enforcement are seeing the surge in methamphetamine in Rusk County as coming from cartels in Mexico. The drugs are coming into the county from outside, as opposed to being made or mixed within the area and trafficked into the county. 

Wallace said he is pleased with the number of hours law enforcement has put into this to gain some closure on the current methamphetamine drug problem. He is hopeful the arrests and charges of the 11 individuals will put a dent in the drug use in Rusk County.

According to the criminal complaint, on March 8 law enforcement executed a search warrant of the residence of Prestwood and Sandley-Wangner where multiple items of illegal substances and large amounts of currency were located. 

Later in an interview, Prestwood told law enforcement officers that she and Sandley-Wangner had been using methamphetamine and involved in selling it. She allegedly identified her source as Witt. Through Prestwood, Sandley-Wangner began selling a quarter of pound of methamphetamine purchased from Witt. 

Sandley-Wangner allegedly engaged in six methamphetamine purchases with Witt where he purchased a quarter pound of methamphetamine ranging from $2,200-$2,400 for each transaction.

The two would use an online cash app to initial the transaction. The criminal complaint alleges the other individuals also used Walmart-to-Walmart transfers and PayPal to make cash transactions to purchase and sell methamphetamine.

After gathering money from several individuals, Witt would allegedly travel to Minnesota where he would purchase two to three pounds of methamphetamine and deliver it to different sources upon his return to Rusk County, according to the criminal complaint.

On March 13 law enforcement officers executed a search warrant of Channell’s Ladysmith residence and seized multiple items of drug paraphernalia and 24 grams of methamphetamine. In an interview, a customer of Channell, who had been at the residence during the search, told officers he had gone there to purchase methamphetamine.

Later, in an interview with law enforcement, Channell allegedly said his supplier was Witt had purchased a half ounce of methamphetamine for $400 from Witt three separate times within the previous two weeks.

Rusk County investigators began visual and electronic surveillance of a Ladysmith home and two vehicles that were suspected to belong to Witt.

On March 25 in a traffic stop on Witt, a search of his vehicle revealed approximately 100 grams of a substance that allegedly tested positive for methamphetamine, $15,000 in cash and a Smith and Wesson 39-2 semi-automatic handgun. At the time of the incident, Witt was a convicted felon and unable to possess firearms.

In the traffic stop with Witt was a woman and child. The woman later told officers that Witt was selling Kieleszewski $5,000 worth of methamphetamine for cash. The woman also identified Zimmermann as a customer of Witt.

The criminal complaint alleges Witt and Kieleszewski entered a Plover apartment to meet Betro to discuss illegal prescription drugs on or around March 25. Later that day Witt was seen selling Kieleszewski a bag of methamphetamine concealed in a thermos for $700.

Witt allegedly typically bought between a half-pound and two pounds of methamphetamine each time he went to Minnesota which was every two to three days.

Investigators intercepted cell phone text messages between Witt and Hryniewiecki that indicated methamphetamine involvement. Investigators continued to conduct visual and electronic surveillance through April of Witt and Hryniewiecki vehicles and noticed they frequently traveled between Rusk County and the Twin Cities, Minnesota.

On April 20 law enforcement used a confidential informant to conduct a controlled buy of methamphetamine that resulted in the arrest of DeWitt.

On April 23 Hryniewiecki traveled to Red Wing, Minn., for a methamphetamine transaction with Daniel. On her return to Rusk County, law enforcement conducted a traffic stop where multiple items of drug paraphernalia and 27.6 grams of methamphetamine were seized with the help of a K9 deputy.

In an interview, Hryniewiecki told law enforcement of multiple transactions she made while traveling to Minnesota to purchase methamphetamine. Hryniewiecki admitted to being able to hide a half-pound of methamphetamine in each of her bra cups.

Hryniewiecki also admitted to selling methamphetamine to DeWitt and Kerchefski. According to the criminal complaint, Witt sold more methamphetamine than she did and that her role was to “keep the house clean and make sure Witt and clean clothes to wear.”

She also admitted to putting cash onto pre-paid debit cards in the amount of $1,000 for their transactions.

When asked how Hryniewiecki and Witt were able to pay for the drugs, Hryniewiecki told law enforcement they used some cash on hand and their stimulus checks.

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