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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A Dunn County judge has ordered restitution of $7,500 each for two men found guilty of burglarizing a Town of Rock Creek home after it had been damaged in a fire October 11, 2017.
Michael Tenney, age 36, and Ryan Weiss, age 41, appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court April 28 with their attorneys, Matthew Kirkpatrick and Francis Rivard, for separate restitution hearings before Judge Rod W. Smeltzer.
The homeowner’s claim initially was almost $80,000, but the amount was later reduced to $62,000.
Tenney pleaded guilty to one felony count of the theft of movable property worth between $5,000 and $10,000 on October 12, 2018.
Weiss 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 on April 29, 2019.
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.
When Judge Smeltzer set restitution at $7,500 at the April 28 hearing, Tenney told the judge that he is currently looking for work, but he has been unable to find a job because “jobs are not great right now.”
The Dunn County Judicial Center is currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the restitution hearing was conducted by teleconference.
More than 30 million people from across the country have filed unemployment claims because of businesses being shut down during the pandemic.
Tenney asked the judge to reduce the restitution to a judgement against him.
Judge Smeltzer told Tenney if he made a good faith effort to pay the restitution, then Tenney’s probation agent could ask the court to reduce the restitution to a judgement.
During Weiss’s court hearing, Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki said he had talked to the homeowner, who was in agreement with the $7,500, but who also said his loss was greater than $7,500, and that he was considering Weiss’s lack of ability to pay a higher amount.
Judge Smeltzer asked Weiss if he had a plan for paying the restitution.
Weiss said he would make a $100 payment per month if possible.
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.
At the October of 2018 court hearing, Judge Smeltzer imposed and stayed a sentence for Tenney of 18 months in prison and 18 months of extended supervision and ordered Tenney to spend 60 days in the county jail and placed him on three years of probation.
At the April of 2019 court hearing, 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.