Kidnapper attempts prison break; Wisconsin gets $500,000 to settle drug lawsuit; more state briefs
WAUPUN -- A former Racine County man who kidnapped and attacked his ex-wife six years ago tried to escape from the state prison in Waupun.
Corrections officials said they uncovered what they called a "complex escape plan" by David Larson, and they thwarted it last Saturday with the help of three area law enforcement agencies.
Officials did not release other details. But the victim, Teri Jendusa-Nicolai, told the Racine Journal Times that Larson was apparently trying to fake a medical emergency, and authorities knew right away it was a hoax.
Dodge County sheriff's deputies are still investigating the incident and will decide if new charges will be sought.
Larson is serving a 35-year prison term for attempted homicide. He's also been sentenced to life in a federal prison for kidnapping.
Authorities said he lured his ex-wife Teri Jendusa-Nicolai into his home in January of 2004. He beat with her with a baseball bat and left her for dead in a trash can in a cold storage bin near Chicago, close to where he worked. She lost the baby she was carrying, and part of a foot was amputated because it froze.
Jendusa-Nicolai said the escape attempt did not surprise her. She told the Racine paper that Larson is getting desperate after losing a federal appeal of his life sentence.
State gets $500,000 to settle drug lawsuit
Wisconsin will get $527,000 after a drug company agreed to settle a lawsuit.
Ortho-McNeil-Janssen was accused of marketing the drug Topamax for conditions not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Those conditions included psychiatric problems like bipolar disorder, and drug and alcohol dependency.
Because of that marketing, Medicaid government programs like Medicaid paid more than they should have paid for the anti-convulsant medication.
Thursday Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a $527,000 settlement. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen will pay the money to Wisconsin's Medicaid fund. The company agreed in May to settle its criminal and civil cases. It's paying over $75 million nationally.
Panel looks at why black babies die at higher rate
A special state committee is trying to find out why black babies in Wisconsin die at a much higher rate than white infants.
Lawmakers, doctors and others on the panel got together for the first time this week.
Racine paramedic Mark Villalpando said he was tired of performing CPR on children, especially when many infant deaths can be prevented.
Some communities have encouraged parents to make sure babies sleep on their backs and in their own beds. Other causes of baby deaths are not as easy to identify.
Richard Perry of Community Health Systems in Roscoe Illinois said the role of poverty might not be as extensive as many people think. He says middle and upper-class black parents are affected - and not just the poor.
The medical school at UW-Madison is studying the problem in four counties with high black infant mortality rates: Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Rock. The head of the panel, Dr. Phil Farrell, cited previous studies which show that spending on public health in Wisconsin lags behind other states.
No-call list use at all-time high
More Wisconsinites than ever are making their phones off limits to telemarketers.
Over 2.28 million numbers are on the current no-call list. That's the most since the list began seven years ago.
The state's consumer protection agency reports more cell phones are being placed on the do-not-call list. Mobile phones represented 48% of all numbers registered in the last three months - up from 43% the previous quarter.
The no-call list is updated every three months, and people must register every two years to make sure the list stays current. It costs nothing to register.
Officials say signing up for the list won't eliminate all solicitors. Charities can still call, and so can political candidates and pollsters, both of which will be running full-tilt for this fall's elections.
To get on the do-not-call list, click on this link: nocall.wisconsin.gov or call the following toll-free number: 1-866-9-NO-CALL.
Wife says Barrett will stand up for state too
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett is no longer downplaying the beating he took outside the State Fair last August.
Thursday the campaign started airing a one-minute ad that shows news footage about the Milwaukee mayor's effort to break up a domestic fight and how his face and hand got severely beaten by a man who went to prison for it.
Barrett's wife described what happened, praised her husband's character and said he would stand up for Wisconsin if he's elected.
The ad comes just days before Tuesday's primary, in which Barrett faces nominal primary opposition from Tim John.
Most of the attention in the governor's race has been on the Republican primary battle between Scott Walker and Mark Neumann.
The GOP is taking the high road in commenting on Barrett's ad. The state party and Walker's campaign refused comment. Neumann said he believes Barrett "deserves praise for that selfless act."
Phil Walzak of Barrett's campaign said they decided to run the ad now because the voters' interest in the race is starting to pick up, and it shows a part of who Barrett is. In the end, Walzak said voters will decide what role the beating should play.
Mascot's head is back
Bucky's head has been returned.
One of the students at UW-Madison who performs as the team mascot had been hosting a party earlier this month when he woke up and realized Bucky Badger's head was missing.
The student reported the incident to Madison police, but he said he would dropped the charges if the head was just returned. The student said he wound up finding Bucky's head, undamaged, outside his apartment a few days later. The person responsible has not been identified