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Falls police warn residents about 'ransomware' online scam

Dec. 04, 2012 3:51 p.m. | The Menomonee Falls Police Department is warning residents about a new cyber scam that poses as a criminal complaint center, freezes someone's computer and requires payment for it to be unlocked.

The latest version of the ransomware uses the name of "Internet Crime Complaint Center" to frighten victims into sending money to the perpetrators, according to the Police Department. This version of the malware also claims that the user's computer activity is being recorded using audio, video and other devices.

The cyber-scam lures victims to a drive-by download website, at which time the ransomware is installed on the user's computer. Once installed, the computer freezes and a screen is displayed warning the user they have violated United States Federal Law. The message further declares that a law enforcement agency has determined that a computer using the victim's IP address has accessed child pornography and other illegal content, according to the Police Department's news release.

To unlock the computer from being frozen, the user is instructed to pay a fine using prepaid money card services. The geographic location of the user's PC determines what payment services are offered. The malware then continues to operate on the compromised computer and can be used to commit online banking and credit card fraud.

For information about this scam or to report Internet abuse, contact the Menomonee Falls Police Department by calling (262) 532-8700.

Menomonee Falls considers its twelfth TIF

Aug. 20, 2014 8:50 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — Advanced Waste is out, and a new tax-incremental financing district could be in. The village's recent settlement with the Milwaukee-based industrial waste treatment business was part of a much larger long-term plan for the area as village officials consider a new industrial TIF district along the east and west sides of Lilly Road, north of Silver Spring Drive in the Manhardt Drive area.

About three weeks after the village board approved a $2.8 million settlement agreement with AWS authorizing the purchase of 21.6 acres of land, an initial meeting of the Joint Review Board was held this morning to review proposed plan for TIF No. 12.

Including what would have been the new home of a ChemWorks industrial waste processing business, the proposed TIF 107.5 acres of land that Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald said could become the home to up to seven new light industrial businesses.

The majority of the land within the proposed district is currently zoned for heavy industrial development, so Fitzgerald said something of a smaller scale will be a better fit in the area. The plan includes vacant land in addition to the AWS site, which will be completely redeveloped as part of the estimated $3 million in improvements to the area.

TIF is a mechanism that allows municipalities to borrow money to fund infrastructure improvements for an area that otherwise would be difficult to develop or redevelop. The increased property tax revenue from the improved land is then diverted from the tax roll to pay off the loan.

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Menomonee Avenue facelift almost complete

Aug. 20, 2014 8:36 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — The much-needed facelift to Menomonee Avenue has been revealed, and while village officials know its not as good as new, it is certainly an improvement.

At an estimated cost of about $200,000, the repaving project removed rough spots and resurfaced the stretch of road between Appleton Avenue and Town Hall Road. Originally slated for late-May, the project was delayed until August due to the high demand of contractors during the summer months.

It was the first time the village attempted this kind of repaving project, which essentially recycles existing roadway and reuses the asphalt. Taking just about a week to complete, Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald said the village will likely use the method again elsewhere in the village.

In the meantime, village officials plan to continue seeking state assistance to fund a complete $3 million overhaul of the road, hopefully by 2018.

Menomonee Falls revises policy on placement of campaign signs

Aug. 19, 2014 8:48 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — If you plan on running for office in Menomonee Falls any time soon, take head. Village officials are cracking down on the location and placement of campaign signs throughout the community.

The Village Board on August 18 approved a new campaign sign policy that trustee Steve Raymonds said provides more clear definitions of where signs can and cannot be located, as well as how police enforce the policy. Under the new policy, campaign signs must be located on private property and only with permission from the property owner can be placed 12 feet from the back of the curb in urban areas with curb and gutter or 18 feet from the edge of the street in rural areas with roadside drainage ditches.

Signs may not be placed between the curb and gutter and sidewalk, between the edge of the street pavement and walking paths or roadside drainage ditches, in the grass area adjacent to the street pavement, on boulevard medians or on power and telephone poles.

"The new policy is more expedient, that when (police) see signs placed incorrectly, they will not need to call the people, they'll just take the signs down to let them know they have them," Raymonds explained. "(This is) a much more simplified and also expedient proposal."

The more proactive approach to enforcement was sanctioned by the police department, according to Village Manager Mark Fitzgerald who said this will become a part of regular patrol activity.

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Water rates in Menomonee Falls could spike as much as 9 percent

Aug. 18, 2014 7:39 p.m. | Menomonee Falls — The fight to keep water rates down continues in Menomonee Falls.

The proposed 28.7 percent increase to the village of Menomonee Falls Milwaukee Water Works has dropped slightly to 26.6 percent, but that is not enough of a decrease to save the average homeowner in the village from a water bill spike of as much as 9 percent.

Director of Utilities Jeff Nettesheim on August 18 updated the board on the status of the proposed increase, which is currently in the final stages of review by the Public Service Commission.

As it stands, the increase would affect the 87 percent of homeowners whose water is sourced from Lake Michigan. The other 13 percent of the village west of the subcontinental divide is serviced by wells. The exact figures will not be known until the Public Service Commission approves it, which it hopes to do by August. The PSC does not have oversight of sewer rates.

It is the second time in recent years the village was faced with the potential for an increase of this size. In 2010, a proposed 36 percent hike was reduced to 8.2 percent through negotiations with the PSC. A consultant team has been testifying on the village's behalf to the PSC, which is expected to make a decision by mid-September.

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Work on Menomonee River Bridge begins tonight

Aug. 18, 2014 6:34 p.m. | Germantown — On the evening of Monday, Aug. 18, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will begin a $4 million reconstruction project of less than a mile of Highway 41/45 at the Menomonee River Bridge, immediately west of Maple Road.

The project includes removing the existing northbound and southbound roadway and bridges; reconstructing the roadway and bridges, retaining walls, concrete barrier and high tension cable guard; replacing beam guards, storm sewer and permanent signing and restoring landscaping.

The project will be completed in four stages to allow for three lanes of traffic in each direction of the freeway during daily peak hours of travel. Although there may be temporary lane closures in the area during off-peak hours, the freeway will remain open to traffic at all times and no detour route will be necessary.

The contractor, Edward Kraemer and Sons, plans on completing the project by June 2015.

For updates on construction, visit

Nicolet cancels varsity football season

Aug. 14, 2014 8:39 p.m. | In a stunning development, Nicolet High School has elected to cancel the varsity football season in 2014, citing a lack of numbers within the program. The season was slated to begin with a game against Waukesha South on Aug. 22.

A statement from Nicolet athletics director Kirk Krychowiak was released Thursday and reads as follows:


"Nicolet High School has always considered excellence in athletics to be a key component of the quality education we provide to our students. The success we have achieved in our athletic programs is a direct result of the enthusiasm of our coaches, students and the community.


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Brandtjen tops GOP field in Assembly primary

Aug. 13, 2014 9:19 a.m. | Menomonee Falls — Republican Janel Brandtjen will face off against Democrat Jessie Read for Wisconsin State Assembly District 22 in the Nov. 4 general election. With 60 percent of the votes, Brandtjen defeated Blair Rogacki (27 percent) for the GOP nomination in the primary election Tuesday, Aug. 12, while Nick Oliver was third with 13 percent.

"I'm humbled by the support of thousands of my friends and neighbors, and am grateful that they chose me to represent them in Madison," said Brandtjen, of Menomonee Falls. "This is a solemn responsibility and I will defend our values, fight for fiscal responsibility, and always be listening to the voters who chose me to speak for them."

Brandtjen, Oliver and Rogacki competed to represent the Republican party, as Republican incumbent Don Pridemore is stepping down after 10 years in the position. Jessie Read of Lisbon ran unopposed for the Democratic spot for the seat, which was created in 2010 and includes all of the towns of Erin and Lisbon, the villages of Lannon, Butler and portions of the villages of Richfield and Menomonee Falls.

Brandtjen has a bachelor of science degree in finance and marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She owns and operates Group One Marketing, Inc. in Menomonee Falls and is married with two children.

Severson earns easy victory over challenger

Aug. 13, 2014 9:15 a.m. | Waukesha County GOP leaders were able to breathe a big sigh of relief when county sheriff's inspector Eric Severson eaily defeated challenger Tom Alioto, a former Lisbon police sergeant, in the Republican primary election Tuesday, Aug. 12.

These results will likely determine who will be sheriff for the next four years since there is no Democrat running in the heavily Republican county.

Severson earned 32,940 votes compared to Alioto's 5,485.

After the votes were counted, Severson said he was "happy" and "humbled" by the outcome.

"We stuck to our message that qualifications count and the voters sent us a strong message that they want someone who is qualified to serve them and that is what I will be honored to do," Severson added.

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Eric Severson wins landslide vote for Waukesha County sheriff

Aug. 12, 2014 10:44 p.m. | Eric Severson, the chief inspector for the Waukesha County Sheriff's Office, is bound to bear the sheriff's badge after a landslide victory in the Republican primary election.

With more than 70% of the vote counted Tuesday night, Severson earned about 86% of the vote — more than 26,000 supporters — in the race against Tom Alioto, a former Town of Lisbon police sergeant.

Alioto earned about 4,300 votes.

There is no Democratic candidate for Waukesha County sheriff.

The candidates were seeking to replace Dan Trawicki, who served as sheriff for 12 years but declined to run for a fourth term.

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Menomonee Falls woman gets 30 months on tax, mail, food stamp fraud

Aug. 11, 2014 4:17 p.m. | A Menomonee Falls woman has been sentenced to 30 months in prison after she pleaded guilty to tax, mail and food stamp fraud.

Tiffiny Harden, 30, filed fake tax returns that netted her more than $120,000 in refunds, according to federal court documents.

U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa also ordered Harden to pay $120,000 in restitution to the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

She claimed false incomes, false education credits and false dependents for taxpayers, including some who did not know her or how she obtained their tax information, according to the Department of Justice.

Three dozen false 2011 tax returns were filed between January and August 2012.

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Whitefish Bay latest to enact sex offender residency rules

Aug. 07, 2014 4:45 p.m. | Whitefish Bay has become the latest municipality in Milwaukee County to enact an ordinance imposing residency restrictions on registered sex offenders.

River Hills, Shorewood and Hales Corners are contemplating enacting ordinances as well.

If those villages pass ordinances, each community would have some form of residency restrictions for sex offenders.

The recent rush to restrict sex offenders appears to be a reaction to Milwaukee's new ordinance, which severely restricts the placement of registered sex offenders in the city. Mayor Tom Barrett, who with other city officials has said the city has had to house a disproportionate number of sex offenders compared with other municipalities, has called on the state Department of Corrections to come up with a statewide solution.

In River Hills, Village President Robert Brunner said the board would meet in September to discuss a residency restriction ordinance.

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Germantown police officers administer Narcan

Aug. 07, 2014 8:22 a.m. | Germantown — Less than one month after Germantown police officers began carrying Narcan, it was put to good use.

On Saturday, Aug. 2, a man became the first in the village to received the treatment, which is administered via an aerosol spray can into the nose of a person believed to be overdosed with an opiate-based drug such as heroine or morphine.

The call came from employees at the Speedway gas station on County Line Road, who said the man had been in the restroom for several hours. The dose was administered after police arrived on the scene shortly after 5 p.m. and recognized the signs of a possible overdose, according to Captain Mike Snow.

"Upon officer arrival on the scene, they could hear the man gasping for air or vomiting and knew he was definitely in distress," said Snow. "They were able to gain entry to the bathroom and could tell right away by the man's appearance and labored breathing that it was a possible overdose of narcotics."

It was the first incident of its kind since three weeks ago when Germantown police officers were officially trained by the Germantown Fire Department in the recognition and identification of an opiate overdose and proper use of Narcan, per the 2013 Wisconsin Act 200, which allows trained police officers to administer the treatment.

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Someone 'donates' grenade to Goodwill — and it's not the first time

Aug. 06, 2014 12:44 p.m. | The Milwaukee Police Department's Bomb Squad evacuated a Menomonee Falls Goodwill Wednesday after an employee found what appeared to be a grenade in a donation bin.

It wasn't the first time someone "donated" a grenade, spokeswoman Cheryl Lightholder said.

Every so often, workers uncover weapons and other prohibited items amid the usual clothes and toys. Occasionally, they come across an old grenade — or a novelty item intended to look like one.

"Most have already been dismantled," Lightholder said. "But they look like real grenades."

After an employee at Goodwill Industries on Water Tower Place in Menomonee Falls found the suspicious item Wednesday morning, a manager called the Menomonee Falls Police, which contacted the Milwaukee bomb squad.

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Charges filed in July 26 Monomonee Falls burglary, crash

Aug. 04, 2014 1:14 p.m. | Menomonee Falls — A criminal complaint has been filed against two 18-year-old Milwaukee men and an 18-year-old Brown Deer man in connection with a residential burglary that occurred at a residence in the W16200 block of Lone Oak Lane on Saturday, July 26.

Charges were filed with Waukesha County on Monday, July 28, against Jharrell Frazier, Donald Merritt, and Kaine Thomas, who are charged with burglarizing the Menomonee Falls home around 4 p.m. July 26, according to the complaint.

Police responded to a call from the neighboring resident to the home in question reporting suspicious activity in and around the home, according to the complaint. As they were investigating the incident, police said they determined the suspects that fled on foot were also involved in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of Lisbon Road and Graysland Drive. While Fraizer and Merritt were arrested on foot, Thomas was named in the complaint as the operator of the vehicle.

According to the report, Thomas said he dropped the other two men at the scene and did not realize they intended to burglarize the home until he returned to pick them up. Two baggies of what may have been marijuana were found in the back seat of the vehicle, which also contained a number of items from the home including a 55-inch Samsung flat screen television, several jewelry boxes, a computer monitor and laptop. Three white latex gloves were found in the rear seat armrest and a backpack in the vehicle also contained two black gloves.

Upon conviction, the men could be fined up to $25,000 and/or up to 12 1/2 years in prison.

Germantown kindergarten teacher charged with disorderly conduct

Aug. 04, 2014 11:23 a.m. | Germantown — A 38-year-old Oconomowoc woman will appear in court August 19 after allegedly causing damage to Scott Walker signs at the Republican party tent at the Jefferson County Fair, July 9.

April Smith, who is a kindergarten teacher at Amy Belle Elementary School in Germantown, is charged with disorderly conduct for causing an estimated $40 of damage to an unknown number of Scott Walker signs on the evening of July 9, according to the police report.

Smith, who had a blood alcohol content of 0.06, initially denied having any knowledge of an incident before she ultimately confessed that she did damage the signs, which were bent and pulled off their metal frames, according to the report.

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