A St. Germain man who  discharged a shotgun last May while Lac du Flambeau tribal members were exercising their treaty rights on Little St. Germain lake entered a no contest plea to a misdemeanor charge of operating a firearm while intoxicated in Vilas County Circuit Court last week.

James A. Kelsey, 62, was found guilty by substitute Judge Leon Stenz of Forest County, who approved a one-year deferred prosecution agreement.

Kelsey had another charge dismissed as part of the plea agreement, including disorderly conduct with hate crime and use of a dangerous weapon modifiers.

Kelsey also pleaded guilty to a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) charge of interfering with hunting, fishing or trapping and was fined $343.50 due to the Clerk of Court within 60 days.

Tribal spearers reported a shot was fired when they were spearing in front of the Kelsey property and during a Vilas County Sheriff’s Office investigation Kelsey admitted firing a .410 shotgun at a red squirrel about 10 p.m. on May 2, 2020.

A tribal member testified at last week’s hearing, saying, “We don’t deserve to be greeted by gunfire when exercising our treaty rights.” 

Another tribal member told Judge Stenz he “was a victim of a hate crime. He saw our boat and he ran outside and fired a shot.”

Defense Attorney Steve Lucareli claimed Kelsey went to close a number of garage doors on his property and a squirrel ran out, which he fired at away from the lake.

“Nobody was shot at, it was the sound they reacted to,” said Lucareli.

Judge Stenz admitted he was witness to unrest when treaty rights were affirmed, but felt “it’s time to move on from these things. It cannot be tolerated anymore.”

Stenz then accepted the one-year deferred entry of judgment (DEJ), setting a number of conditions that include not to possess or consume intoxicants, no possession of firearms, no contact with the victims, and not to be on any tribal lands owned by the Lac du Flambeau Chippewa.

Vilas County District Attorney Martha Milanowski requested Kelsey serve 80 hours of community service and write  letters of apology to the Lac du Flambeau tribe admitting they have a right as tribal members to exercise treaty rights and to the community via the Lakeland Times and Vilas County News Review.

The hearing took place via Zoom and live streamed  for public access purposes.

In a felony case, Rouleen R. Gartner, 51, of Sioux City, Iowa, and the former director of the Northwoods Children’s Museum in Eagle River, has made an initial appearance to a charge of theft in a business setting between $5,000 and $10,000. The charge is a Class H felony.

Gartner’s initial appearance took place Nov. 30, 2020, with Oneida County Circuit Judge Patrick O’Melia presiding after Vilas County Judge Neal A. Nielsen removed himself from the case. Defense Attorney Maggie Hogan and Vilas County Assistant District Attorney Scott Niemi appeared via Zoom, as did Judge O’Melia and Gartner. 

Gartner’s signature bond was set at $5,000, with no specific conditions. A preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 7, but that has now been rescheduled for Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. The hearing will take place via Zoom and live streamed on YouTubeLive for public assess purposes.

Gartner allegedly took the funds from the museum between November 2014 and June 2019.

In other felony cases last week, Shane H. Ray, 27, of Phelps, charged with possession of methamphetamine, made an initial appearance and a preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 15 at 10:30 am. His $2,500 signature bond was continued. The alleged incident occurred in Vilas County Nov. 20, 2020.

Ray also faces additional charges of two felony counts of burglary of a building or dwelling, three felony bail jumping charges and one misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana for an alleged incident Dec. 18, 2020. All charges carry a repeater modifier.

Tina M. Baxter, 52, of Phelps, made an initial appearance for five charges of felony bail jumping from an alleged incident Nov. 24, 2020, in Vilas County. She waived her preliminary hearing. Probable cause was found she had committed a crime and she was bound over for arraignment. Not guilty pleas were entered by the court and a pretrial conference with the district attorney was set for Feb. 16 at 10:15 a.m. Her $1,000 signature bond was continued.

Baxter also has five other cases pending in Vilas Circuit Court, two others from 2020, two from 2019 and one from 2018. She faces two felony bail jumping charges from an alleged incident Aug. 14, 2020; third-offense operating while intoxicated and six counts of felony bail jumping from an alleged incident  July 9, 2020; theft of moveable property-special facts, four counts of felony bail jumping and one count of theft of moveable property under $2,500 from an alleged incident Dec. 7, 2019; felony bail jumping and disorderly conduct from an alleged incident Feb. 14, 2019; and transfer of another’s personal property over $500 but less than $10,000 for an alleged incident March 29, 2018. According to court documents, all matters will be included in the pretrial conference with the district attorney Feb. 16, 2021.