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Suspect faces many charges

Suspect faces many charges

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POSTED July 6, 2017 11:20 a.m.

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN - Todd F. Groom, 27, of Steuben, has been charged with possession of a firearm by a felon, operating a motor vehicle without owner’s consent and operating a motor vehicle while revoked, as well as attempting to escape.

The charges follow an arrest of Groom at the Prairie du Chien McDonald’s with a subsequent attempt to escape from the Crawford County Jail.

If convicted of possession of a firearm by a felon, a Class G Felony, Groom may be fined up to $25,000 or imprisoned up to 10 years or both. If convicted of operating a motor vehicle without owners consent, a Class I Felony, and he may be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned up to six months or both. If convicted of operating a motor vehicle while revoked, a misdemeanor, he faces a fine of up to $2,500 or imprisonment for not more than one year in the county jail or both.

If Groom is convicted of attempting escape, Class A Misdemeanor, for allegedly trying to break out of the jail, he can fined up to $5,000 or imprisoned not more than four-and-a-half months or both.

On June 9 at approximately 11 p.m., Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Kyle Mezera and City of Prairie du Chien Police Officer Casey Cox were made aware that Groom had active arrest warrants out of both Grant and LaCrosse counties, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

 Mezera stated that he advised Cox that Groom often drives a Dodge Neon, red in color that was registered to another individual. Cox stated that he had observed that same vehicle earlier that same evening in the City of Prairie du Chien.

Later that same evening after this conversation, Cox observed the Groom vehicle operating on Marquette Road in Prairie du Chien. Cox related the observation to Mezera who located the vehicle in the parking lot at McDonalds, according to the criminal complaint. 

Mezera stated that he entered the McDonald’s and observed Groom, who he knows. Mezera stated in the criminal complaint that he placed Groom under arrest for the Grant County and LaCrosse County warrants.

Pursuant to a search of Groom’s person incident to this arrest, a live shotgun shell, .410-gauge, was located in his pants pocket. Mezera requested permission to search the Dodge Neon as well. According to the criminal complaint, Groom stated that he could search a bag that was sitting in the front passenger seat, but nothing else. Cox stood by the vehicle, while Groom was transported to the Crawford County Jail for booking.

While at the jail, Mezera spoke to the registered owner of the vehicle, Michael Groom. Michael gave the officers permission to search the vehicle. Mezera returned to the vehicle and it was searched. Discovered in the search was a .410 gauge shotgun with a sawed-off barrel to an illegal length and a defaced serial number.

Groom was convicted in Grant County of substantial battery, a felony, making it illegal for Groom to possess a firearm, the criminal complaint stated.

During his conversation with Michael, Mezera was also told that Groom did not have permission or consent to drive or operate his vehicle.

Groom’s driving record was received from the State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Division of Motor Vehicles. According to the driving record, the defendant’s operating privileges are currently under revocation, and were revoked on March 27, 2013 indefinitely for non compliance/failure to appear for an assessment interview.

Groom was held at the Crawford County Jail until his bond hearing on June 12. After Groom’s bond hearing, the cell that he had been residing in was searched by jailers Dwight Kussmaul and Alex Kress, according to the criminal complaint.

Kussmaul and Kress discovered an area on the wall, which had been covered by paper hanging over it—a hole. The jailers discovered an area where an approximately one-foot square area of the inside of the wall had been removed, exposing the cement cinder block which form the outside wall. Three other sections of the interior wall were loose having had the grout between the sections scratched out.

Kussmaul noted that a flat-head screw was missing from the shower and he was unable to locate it. Kussmaul also discovered a 6”x3/4” piece of mental in the defendant’s belongings that appeared to be the item used to scratch the grout and pry the tile bricks out of the wall.

When asked the whereabouts of the aforementioned flat-head screw, Groom said he knew where it was but refused to tell the jailers.

The jailers spoke to the defendant’s cellmate, John Kelly, who stated that Groom told him he was going to escape when he finished the hole in the wall.

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