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EM village hall burglar sentenced to 42 months in federal prison

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MADISON  —  A 24-year-old Ladysmith man has been sentenced to 42 months in federal prison for stealing a firearm from the Elk Mound Police Department during a break-in last November.

Darren J. Bishop was sentenced July 21 in federal court in Madison by U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Crabb.

Bishop was indicated by a federal grand jury in February as being a felon in possession of a firearm. The weapon was a .22 caliber revolver stolen from Elk Mound’s police department during a burglary of the Elk Mound village hall November 22, 2014.

According to a news release from John J. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, Bishop admitted that he had stolen the weapon to trade it for methamphetamine.

Bishop pleaded guilty to the charge in federal court in April.

Judge Crabb ordered Bishop to pay $10,206 to the Village of Elk Mound for damage that he caused to the village hall and the police department during the burglary.

Bishop broke into the Elk Mound village hall in the early morning hours of November 22.

Pat Hahn, village clerk-treasurer, reported to the Elk Mound Village Board in December that security camera footage of the break-in at the village hall indicated that Bishop had been in the building for more than an hour.

Hahn said she had come to the village hall after getting the mail — shortly after the burglary — and the first thing she noticed on the floor just inside the door were some file folders and bullets.

A list of stolen items provided to the Elk Mound Village Board indicated that the burglar took weapons and ammunition from the Elk Mound Police Department, including a .22 caliber revolver, a .357 caliber revolver, a .38 caliber revolver, and several boxes of ammunition.

All together, clean up of the village hall and police department, repairs to the building, upgrades to the building’s security systems, and the items stolen during the break-in totaled more than $15,000.

Other items that were taken during the break-in included a paintball gun, a BB pistol, an air gun, a police baton with a holster, a portable radio and charging base, and alcohol Intoximeters.

Bishop was arrested in Minnesota on December 1, 2014, for a theft at a Wal-Mart store and gave law enforcement officers a number of false names before he was correctly identified.

At the time of the Elk Mound burglary, Bishop also was wanted in connection with burglaries in Rusk County and Chippewa County.

When Bishop was interviewed by investigators, he said he had targeted Elk Mound because of the limited staffing of the police department, Elk Mound Police Chief Travis Hakes reported to the Elk Mound Village Board last December.

Following the retirement of Elk Mound Police Chief Randy Bartelt several years ago, the Elk Mound Village Board decided that the village did not need a full-time police chief.

The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department sent out an initial release on November 22 with a still photo from the village hall’s security videotape showing the suspect wearing a stocking cap and a hooded jacket from O’Neill Creek Campground, with the lower part of his face covered.

Bishop was later identified in conjunction with information from the Chippewa County and Rusk County sheriff’s departments, along with the tips provided by the public.

The charge against Bishop was the result of an investigation conducted by the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department and the Elk Mound Police Department.