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Drug raid preliminary hearings start Friday
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PLATTEVILLE — The first of the 21 defendants in the May 2 Platteville drug arrests will have their preliminary hearings in Grant County Circuit Court in Lancaster this week.

Preliminary hearings will be held Friday for Michael J. DePons, 21, Platteville; Austin S. Krueger, 20, Platteville; Gregory J. Becker, 22, Platteville; Wesley L. Ertmer, 20, Platteville; Daniel Jz. Panella, 21, Oconomowoc; and Andrew J. Fells, 23, Platteville.

DePons, Krueger, Becker and Ertmer face three counts each of manufacturing and delivery of THC (marijuana). Panella faces one count of manufacturing and delivery of THC and one count of possession of THC with intent to deliver. Fells faces one count of manufacturing and delivery of THC. The maximum penalty per count is 3½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Eleven defendants will have their preliminary hearings Wednesday, May 30 — Peter A. Wycklendt, 21, Platteville; Craig A. Wilson, 19, Madison; Cole D. Durdan, 21, Platteville; Ashley K. Kloss, 21, Ixonia; Randall R. Runge, 23, Walworth; Troy J. Frederick, 20, Eau Claire; Michael G. Sahs, 21, Platteville; Ryan L. Schlosser, 22, Platteville; Ian D. Erickson, 21, Platteville; Ross A. Kopiske, 21, Platteville; and Nicholas R. Rosenthal, 22, Galena.

Wycklendt, Wilson, Durdan, Kloss, Runge, Frederick and Sahs face three counts each of manufacturing and delivery of THC, while Schlosser and Kopiske face one count of manufacturing and delivery of THC. Erickson faces charges of manufacturing and delivery of THC and possession of drug paraphernalia and marijuana.

Rosenthal faces a charge of manufacturing and delivery of cocaine, which has a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Preliminary hearing dates have yet to be set for Jared A. Otto, 21, Brookfield, on three counts of manufacturing and delivery of THC, and Kamal T. Abdelrahim, 22, Milwaukee, on one count of manufacturing and delivery of THC.

Chelsey M. Austin, 20, Platteville, will be arraigned June 18 on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. Arraignment dates have not been set for Ryan B. Whitehead, 21, Platteville, on a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia, or Natalie Costello-Mikecz, 21, on a charge of possession of mushrooms.

The arrests are the result of a 10-month-long investigation by the Richland–Iowa–Grant Drug Task Force that included drug sales to undercover officers between June 1 and April 11.

The raids and arrests were conducted by Platteville, Dodgeville and Richland Center police; UW–Platteville police; the Grant, Iowa and Richland county sheriff’s departments; and the state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.

Meanwhile, a campaign calling itself Keep ’em in School is advocating that the 16 UW–Platteville students not be expelled.

According to the UW–Platteville Exponent, University of Wisconsin System code Chapter 17 allows UW schools to take disciplinary action against students for misconduct not related to academics, including sale or delivery of controlled substances, or possession of controlled substances with the intent to sell or deliver them. Potential disciplinary action ranges from reprimands to suspension or expulsion, the last two of which would prevent the students from enrolling in any UW System school.

The Exponent quoted interim Dean of Students Artanya Wesley as saying that under the UWS code, “the university doesn’t have to wait for formal charges to make disciplinary decisions.”

The Keep ’em in School campaign flyer quoted civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks: “At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this. It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”

The Exponent reported that UW–Platteville Chancellor Dennis Shields wrote in a campuswide email that “The University will not be assessing the guilt or innocence of the students on the charges brought by the authorities; that is what our judicial system does. ... It is the duty of the University to comply with the laws of the State of Wisconsin which require the accused students be accorded due process before any sanctions are imposed by the University.”

As for the Parks quote, Shields wrote, “It may be that the accused students had political motives for the actions and/or activity for which they have been charged. However, I am old enough to remember the massive upheaval in this country prompted in part by the courageous stand that Rosa Parks took that day by refusing to give up her seat on a bus in Birmingham. To in any way analogize what our students are going through to the courage shown by Rosa Parks and others during the Civil Rights movement is intellectually dishonest.”

Kloss posted a link to the Exponent story on the Facebook page of the Drug Policy Alliance, which calls itself “the nation’s leading organization promoting alternatives to the drug war that are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights.” The DPA’s mission statement is to “advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug misuse and drug prohibition, and to promote the sovereignty of individuals over their minds and bodies.”