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Restitution still undetermined for Rock Creek burglary

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  — A restitution amount still has not been determined for a burglary that occurred in a Town of Rock Creek home after it had been damaged in a fire October 11, 2017.

Michael Tenney and Ryan Weiss, who were both found guilty of the burglary, appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court February 4 with their attorneys, Matthew Kirkpatrick and Francis Rivard, for a restitution hearing before Judge Rod W. Smeltzer.

The homeowner’s claim initially was almost $80,000, said Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki.

Through testimony at earlier court hearings, the restitution amount was reduced to $62,000, he said.

Tenney, age 35, pleaded guilty to one felony count of the theft of movable property worth between $5,000 and $10,000 in October of 2018.

Weiss, age 41, entered a plea of “no contest,” and Judge Smeltzer accepted his plea and found Weiss guilty on one felony count of theft of movable property worth more than $10,000 in April of 2019.

Judge Smeltzer accepted Tenney’s guilty plea and imposed and stayed a sentence of 18 months in prison and 18 months of extended supervision, ordered Tenney to spend 60 days in the county jail and placed Tenney on three years of probation.

Judge Smeltzer withheld sentence and placed Weiss on three years of probation, and as a condition of probation, ordered Weiss to serve six months in the county jail, concurrent with the sentence in a separate case in which Weiss was found guilty on a deferred prosecution agreement for bail jumping and sentenced to six months in the county jail.

One of the items stolen from the house, which is believed to have been sold by Tenney and Weiss, was a signed red No. 45 Michael Jordan basketball jersey given to the family’s six-year-old daughter and made available through the “Make A Wish” foundation.

Insurance claims

The homeowner testified about his loss at a hearing September 26, 2019, and the restitution hearing was rescheduled for February 4 because Tenney’s and Weiss’s attorneys asked for copies of insurance claims and photographs, Maki told the court at the February 4 hearing.

Maki said he had not received any additional documents from the homeowner, and the homeowner was not present in court for the restitution hearing, he said.

Judge Smeltzer asked how much the homeowner’s insurance had paid.

Maki said he was aware of one $4,000 payment from Nationwide Insurance.

The autographed Michael Jordan jersey, valued at $5,000, has been replaced, Maki said.

Rivard, Weiss’s attorney, said they had asked for photographs but had received no documentation and no information.

Rivard said the photographs he wanted had been taken by the insurance company after the fire but before the items “went missing.”

Another restitution hearing is scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court for April 28 at 3:15 p.m.

Judge Smeltzer said he hoped the homeowner would provide the information requested, and that in the meantime, Maki should talk to Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf and to Kirkpatrick and Rivard to try to resolve the restitution issue.

According to online court records, the homeowner will be subpoenaed to appear at the next court hearing.

Looting

According to a news release from the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department dated November 13, 2017,  in the early morning hours of November 2, a family member had arrived at the residence in the Town of Rock Creek and discovered two unknown men with a vehicle behind the residence.

The family member saw two men inside the house with headlamps who were removing property.

When the woman asked the men what they were doing, they said they were “looting the house.” The woman told the two men to “get out.” The men had a garbage can full of property from the house that they loaded into their vehicle and then left.

Tenney told investigators he had seen Weiss in possession of three or four older BB guns matching the description of BB guns stolen from the house in Rock Creek, according to the criminal complaint.

Tenney took investigators to the garage of his residence in Eau Claire and showed them several tool boxes and said he believed Weiss had stolen most if not all of the tools.

Tenney also showed investigators a backpack containing two sets of camouflage clothing he said Weiss and his girlfriend, Tabitha Sears, would wear when they robbed houses at night, the complaint states.

The backpack also contained an antique handheld magnifying glass later identified by a family member as belonging to her father and that had been stolen during the burglary.

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