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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Grand Jury Returns Indictments

MADISON, WIS. -- A federal grand jury in the Western District of Wisconsin, sitting in Madison, returned the following indictments today.  You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes.  If convicted, the sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. 

Las Vegas Man Charged with Making Threat

Stephen Hemmes, 42, Las Vegas, is charged with knowingly transmitting in interstate commerce from Nevada to Wisconsin a communication with the purpose of issuing a threat and with the knowledge that the communication would be understood as a threat.  The indictment alleges that on November 9, 2016, Hemmes communicated via cell phone from Nevada with a security officer at Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., and told the officer that he would drive “there” and shoot a student at the college.   

Hemmes was arrested in Las Vegas on November 10, 2016, by FBI agents pursuant to an arrest warrant issued after the filing of a complaint in U.S. District Court in Madison on November 10.  The complaint alleged that Hemmes told the college security officer that he would have “no problem taking [victim’s] life.” 

Hemmes made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on November 14, and remains in federal custody.  No date has been set for his initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Madison. 

If convicted, Hemmes faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.  The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sauk County Sheriff’s Office, Madison Police Department, and Edgewood College Security.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Przybylinski Finn.

Five Charged in Eau Claire Marijuana Conspiracy

Blake H. Handrick, 39, Joseph J. Cicione, 27, Jason E. Weller, 34, Steven B. Falstad, 49, and Chad A. Peterson, 28, are charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possess marijuana with the intent to distribute it.  Each of these defendants are residents of Eau Claire, Wis., with the exception of Cicione, who is a former Eau Claire resident and now resides in Friday Harbor, Wash.   The indictment alleges that the conspiracy operated from 2013 to December 2015, that the amount involved in the conspiracy attributable to Handrick and Cicione is 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, and that the amount attributable to Weller, Falstad, and Peterson is 50 kilograms or more of marijuana.

In addition to the conspiracy charge, the indictment includes the following charges:

  1. Handrick and Cicione are charged with four counts of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, and with three counts of distributing marijuana;
  2. Weller is charged with one count of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute;
  3. Falstad is charged with one count of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute; and
  4. Peterson is charged with one count of distributing marijuana and one count of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute.

The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of $658,900, which is alleged to constitute the proceeds from the conspiracy. If convicted of the conspiracy charge, Handrick and Cicione face a mandatory minimum penalty of five years to a maximum of life in federal prison, and Weller, Falstad and Peterson face a maximum penalty of 20 years.  Each charge of possession with the intent to distribute and distribution of marijuana has a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.

The charges against them are the result of an investigation by the West Central Drug Task Force; West Central Metropolitan Enforcement Group; Eau Claire Police Department; Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office; Galesville Police Department; Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Jarosz.

Madison Man Charged with Attempting to Possess Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute

Carmelo Salgado-Lopez, 25, Madison, Wis., is charged with attempting to possess 500 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  Salgado-Lopez was stopped by law enforcement in Missouri on November 29, 2016, on his way to Madison, in possession of the methamphetamine. 

If convicted, Salgado-Lopez faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.  The charge against him is the result of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Dane County Narcotics Task Force.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman. 

Madison Man Faces Additional Sex Trafficking Charges

Maurice Adonis Withers, 27, Lodi, Wis., is charged in a superseding indictment with two counts of sex trafficking a minor, three counts of sex trafficking by force, one count of attempted sex trafficking by force, one count of transporting a minor from Wisconsin to Nevada with the intent that the minor engage in prostitution, and two counts of transporting individuals from Wisconsin to Nevada with the intent they engage in prostitution.

Withers was charged in an indictment returned by the grand jury on January 20, 2016, with six counts related to sex trafficking.  This superseding indictment includes an additional three charges. 

If convicted, Withers faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years to a maximum of life in prison on the four sex trafficking counts, a mandatory minimum of 10 years to a maximum of life for the two counts of sex trafficking of a minor and the transporting a minor for prostitution charges, and a maximum of 10 years on the two counts of transporting an individual for prostitution. 

The charges against Withers are the result of an investigation by the Madison Police Department; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; Sauk County Sheriff’s Department; and Wisconsin Dells Police Department.  The prosecution of this case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie S. Pfluger.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Violent Crime
Updated December 7, 2016