Federal officials investigate Mequon lawyer accused of fraud

Feb. 15, 2014 1:15 p.m. | Federal authorities are trying to seize some of more than $2 million entrusted to a Mequon lawyer last year by an elderly West Allis couple.

It's the latest step by authorities who for three years have investigated serious complaints against attorney Sarah Laux, who remains a member in good standing of the state bar.

Mark Franzen, the West Allis couple's son, said when he read about Laux's legal trouble in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in May, he returned from Arizona to check on his parents. He learned that the couple had hired Laux after attending a free luncheon seminar about trusts that Laux put on in Greendale.

"I went back to look at my parents' affairs and estate, and uncovered some money was missing," Franzen said. "It appeared Laux was behind it and it focused on annuities."

According to records in federal court and from the state commissioner of insurance, Laux persuaded Harold and Mary Ann Franzen to redirect about $2.1 million of their investments into a series of annuities.

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Bay girls fall to Cedarburg, 62-50, now game behind in NSC race

Feb. 14, 2014 10:38 p.m. | Now it gets much harder for the Whitefish Bay girls basketball team to win the North Shore Conference title.

The Blue Dukes saw their 14-game winning streak come to an end Friday night when visiting Cedarburg dominated the fourth quarter and beat Bay, 62-50. It was Bay's first loss since an 82-77 decision to North Shore leader Germantown back on Dec. 6.

With the defeat, Bay (10-2, 15-3) fell out of the tie for the league lead it previously had with Germantown. The Warhawks (11-1, 15-5) crushed Nicolet this night to maintain their lead.

"I still find it incredible that this team had not been defeated since December," said Bay coach Dave Markson, "but they (the Bulldogs) made the adjustments and they didn't flinch (when it counted).

"Now we need some help. We need somebody to beat Germantown (to get a share of the lead) and that's never a good situation to be in."

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North Shore United to improve complex, expand

Feb. 14, 2014 10:42 a.m. | Mequon — Several improvements to the North Shore United Soccer Club's Port Washington State Bank complex, W6499 Layton St., were approved by the Planning Commission on Monday.

Under an amended conditional use permit, NSU is now allowed an increase in parking to 170 vehicles, an increase in patrons from 250 to 492 with three annual exceptions for tournaments, nighttime lighting for Monday through Thursday practices from September to Thanksgiving, and an allowance for adult players.

The new site plan approved Monday allows for a four-foot fence around the recently installed synthetic field, two sets of 72-spectator bleachers, protective netting behind several of the fields, and a four-stall restroom trailer on the northwest part of the complex parking lot.

The operational changes both codify expansions of the program which have been in violation the original use permit dating back to the 1990s and allow for much-needed improvements, according to NSU representatives.

"The modifications go to help ensuring that all the players and families in our club enjoy the game," Coaching Director Joe Hammes said. "It keeps them happy and safe."

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Man arrested for taking $3,300 worth of items from Sendik's

Feb. 14, 2014 8:40 a.m. | A man was arrested on Jan. 31 for taking more than $3,300 worth of items from Sendik's Fresh2Go.

According to the Bayside police report:

The man, age and residence not released, worked as a demonstrator for a food company working at Sendik’s Fresh2Go, 340 W. Brown Deer Road, over a number of days.

The store discovered items missing during an inventory, and the man, who was then questioned, admitted taking the items but not eating or selling them, just storing them at his home. He blamed an anxiety disorder for the thefts.

He was found in possession of about 25 items valued at $281. He and police then went to his home but the man would not let them in, saying it was a relative's home and that relative was ill. He went in and came out with more than 70 items valued at $1,510.

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Brown Deer police seeking BP armed robbery suspect

Feb. 13, 2014 3:09 p.m. | Brown Deer — Police are on the lookout for a man suspected of robbing at gunpoint the BP gas station at 51st Street and Brown Deer Road Wednesday evening.

According to a Brown Deer Police Department news release, the man entered the gas station about 7 p.m. Wednesday and wanted to purchase a cigar. The clerk asked for identification, which the man handed over. According to the clerk, the ID provided matched the man.

While the clerk was handing over change, the man pulled out a black gun of unknown style from his backpack and demanded money.

The man made off with an undisclosed amount of cash, running to and entering the passenger side of a late-model, dark-colored Chevy Impala, which was last seen going south on 51st Street.

The man was described as a black male, 18- to 20-years-old, 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches with an average build. He was wearing a black baseball cap; dark coat and pants; white tennis shoes; and a black backpack.

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Authorities identify man killed in Glendale house fire

Feb. 12, 2014 2:52 p.m. | The man killed in a weekend Glendale house fire was identified Wednesday as 49-year-old Steven A. Kleiber.

The fire occurred about 9:45 p.m. Saturday and was reported by a Glendale police officer who noticed it while on patrol. North Shore Fire/Rescue arrived to find the roof collapsing and saw the first floor eventually fall into the basement.

Kleiber suffered burns and was deceased when officials found him on the first floor of the house. The Milwaukee County medical examiner ruled the death accidental.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Tepper resigns as Glendale mayor

Feb. 12, 2014 1:54 p.m. | Glendale — Mayor Jerome Tepper is stepping down from his leadership post, after holding the role for nearly eight years.

The Common Council on Monday considered Tepper's resignation, submitted in a letter dated Feb. 6 and effective Feb. 12. Tepper explained that his frequent travel since his wife took a job in Virginia about 14 months ago has taken a toll on him physically.

"I promised my wife that as soon as the resolution of the (North Shore) Fire Department modification was completed that I would tender my resignation and become a full-time husband," Tepper said. "This was the first opportunity for me to really do it at the right time."

Being able to work with the leaders of the six other North Shore communities to modify the fire department funding agreement is one of the accomplishments that stands out for Tepper since he first took on the role of mayor in April 2006. Although it took nearly eight years to complete, he noted, it was worth the effort.

Other accomplishments listed by Tepper include keeping taxes at a level the community can handle, under the leadership of City Administrator Richard Maslowski, running efficient meetings, and keeping Glendale Days alive — something he credits in part to resident Bryan Kennedy. When he recommended that Kennedy serve as chair of the Fourth of July Committee, he happily accepted, Tepper said.

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New scholarship honors deceased Shorewood grad

Feb. 12, 2014 12:16 p.m. | Shorewood — Debra Spector lives on in the thoughts of her family, in the words of her friends, and now in the lives of the students helped in her name.

Sunday was the one-year anniversary of her abrupt and untimely passing at the age of 39 due to diabetic complications. This Friday, Valentine's Day, marks the bittersweet anniversary of the funeral attended by her family and several hundred friends.

Creating a memorial fund

To honor her name and the love she had for Shorewood High School, her father, Howard Spector, has donated $25,000 to fund the self-sustaining Debra Spector Memorial Scholarship.

The memorial fund has been invested by the high school. Every year $500 worth of proceeds will be awarded to a student bound for nearby University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where Debra earned her undergraduate degree.

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Mequon approves Marshalls store plan

Feb. 12, 2014 7:00 a.m. | A new Marshalls store proposed for Mequon Pavilions Shopping Center has been approved by the Mequon Plan Commission. 

The commission at its Monday night meeting approved plans for the clothing and home goods store to use 24,822 square feet at the shopping center, 10930 N. Port Washington Road.

Marshalls will take space currently occupied by Men’s Wearhouse and two smaller adjacent vacant spaces, according to a commission report. Men's Wearhouse will move to another vacant space at the shopping center.

The plan includes a 300-square-foot addition at the front entrance, a 500-square-foot expansion at the rear of the building for a loading dock, and changes to the building's façade, including new storefront windows.

Marshalls will be among the largest tenants at the 218,116-square-foot Mequon Pavilions, which is owned by New York-based Brixmor Property Group Inc. Other anchors include Sendik's Food Market and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

Homestead edges AHS in seeding battle

Feb. 11, 2014 10:37 p.m. | Germantown coach Steve Showalter and Kettle Moraine coach Brad Bestor were among those on hand Tuesday at Homestead High School to watch the Highlanders face Arrowhead in a nonconference boys basketball battle. The next time coaches from the four teams will be in the same room is Sunday, when the annual seeding meeting will hash out where each team falls in the WIAA postseason.

It was Homestead that came away with a huge feather in its cap for that very occasion.

With a 56-51 win over Arrowhead, the Highlanders attained the inside track on the No. 3 seed, with Germantown and Kettle Moraine the momentary odds-on favorites for the top spots in a loaded corner of the sectional.

"When we dropped to Port (Washington on Jan. 24), that kind of put us behind the 8-ball, but these guys have responded all year with stepping up," Homestead coach Kevin McKenna said. "We talked all week about how this game is a bracket-buster game. We knew going into the seeding meeting on Sunday, this was going to play big."

Jerrod Walton scored 23 points and could do no wrong for the Highlanders, and Luke Mueller caught fire for a key fourth-quarter stretch to give the Highlanders a late lead.

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Brown Deer boys clinch second straight Woodland East title

Feb. 11, 2014 10:35 p.m. | A lot of new faces, a couple of transfers but the same old intensity.

And that's how the Brown Deer boys basketball team clinched its second straight Woodland Conference East Division title Tuesday night, as it rolled past a stubborn Shorewood squad with a 16-0 start to the fourth quarter en route to a 69-47 decision.

"It was a great win for us," said Falcon coach Kelly Appleby. "Back-to-back conference titles is a great achievement for this group. We've been unbeaten on the East side for the last two years and we've had just four (conference) losses total.

"This team (Shorewood), was in second place, so we needed to separate ourselves."

They did, as with the win, the Falcons are now 13-3 in league play and 15-5 overall having won seven games in a row and nine of their last 10. Meanwhile, Shorewood fell to 9-6 and 12-7, respectively and saw its five game winning streak come to an end.

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Memory care facility proposal again tabled by Mequon Planning Commission

Feb. 11, 2014 4:45 p.m. | Mequon — The Planning Commission's second crack at the Azura Memory Care of Mequon proposal played out like a court trial Monday, with an abundance of resident testimony interspersed with attorneys on both sides of the issue arguing their cases before an attentive, near-capacity crowd.

It was then up to City Attorney John DeStefanis to attempt to make sense of the various legal claims and clarify for the commissioners what they could and could not do according to state law. Yet even with his advice, the commissioners weren't sure their actions could hold up in court and tabled Azura's request for the second time.

Colorado-based Azura Memory Care has proposed a 60-bed memory care facility at the former Beth El synagogue property at 2802 W. Mequon Road. After a lengthy discussion in January, the commission tabled Azura's request after residents and the developer offered conflicting claims.

The 14 residents who addressed the commission on the proposal were unanimously opposed to Azura's plans. Faced with conflicting legal opinions from attorneys representing the developer and neighbors — who unsurprisingly offered interpretations favorable to their clients — the commission tasked DeStefanis with sorting it all out to produce a definitive legal opinion for their next meeting.

"I'm troubled that if we go forward tonight we're going to put Mequon back in court," commissioner Pat Marchese said.

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Committee selects facilitator to aid in Mequon-Thiensville financial talks

Feb. 11, 2014 11:49 a.m. | Mequon — The newly formed Mequon-Thiensville School District ad hoc committee, tasked with finding a way to financially sustain the quality of the district, on Thursday chose noted mediator Howard Bellman to aid them in their deliberations.

Bellman is a longtime mediator who has worked on a number of high-profile negotiations over the years. According to his website, Bellman has worked with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Education, and Federal Trade Commission; his recent cases include negotiations over the Kalamazoo River Superfund site cleanup, Archdiocese of Milwaukee clergy sexual abuse, and employment discrimination settlement negotiations.

While at least one committee member had qualms about hiring Bellman, saying he has a reputation for being biased in favor of teachers, the consensus among the group was that he has impressive experience and could be dismissed in the event he shows a bias.

"I got the sense that as a process champion, as a facilitator, he would separate those things out," committee co-chair Brian Levy said. "...If we're cognizant that he's got a bent or something, we can filter that out."

Committee avoids resident candidates

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