- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015
Minnesota man sentenced in alleged murder-for-hire plot

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A central Minnesota man accused of trying to hire someone to kill the fiance of a former mistress has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Robert James Schueller, 30, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court for sending threatening communication. Schueller pleaded guilty in May, after being charged in January with the use of interstate commerce facilities to commission the killing, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1iuV3w2) reported.

“This is about as serious a crime as I have seen in a long time,” U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle told Schueller on Friday.

According to an affidavit filed this winter, Schueller had an affair in 2013 with a woman while he was married to another woman. The three worked at Nomad Pipeline Services, Schueller’s family-owned business. The woman ended the affair in August 2013 and began a relationship with another man.

After failing to win back the woman, Schueller allegedly contacted a co-worker and asked him for help hiring a hit man to kill his former lover’s new boyfriend.

Schueller and the co-worker corresponded for months, according to the affidavit. In March 2014, Schueller sent one of his employees from Minnesota to Wisconsin to deliver $10,000 in cash to the co-worker to pay the hit man. In May, the co-worker - who later told law enforcement that he’d never wanted to orchestrate the murder - told Schueller he wouldn’t be able to find a hit man and returned the $10,000.

Later, Schueller admitted to contacting several other co-workers for help in harming his former girlfriend’s new boyfriend, according to a May release from the U.S. attorney’s office. At one point, Schueller paid his sister-in-law $500 to try to seduce the new boyfriend and break up the relationship, the government said.

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Milwaukee police: Officer shot suspect, was hit by car

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Milwaukee police say an officer has shot a suspect.

In a Twitter announcement, police said Saturday the shooting happened at 5th and Norwich.

Police say the officer was struck by the suspect’s car. The officer was taken to a hospital but has non-life-threatening injuries.

No other details were immediately released.

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Judge rejects extra fees for We Energies solar panel owners

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A judge has ruled that customers of We Energies who want to add solar panels will not have to pay extra fees the utility was set to start assessing next year.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Peter Anderson decided on Friday the Wisconsin Public Service Commission did not have enough evidence to back up its decision in December to impose the fees, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1NgnDyfhttps://bit.ly/1NgnDyf ) reported.

Solar companies and renewable energy advocates praised the ruling for stopping what they call a “discriminatory tax on solar.” We Energies and the PSC said they were reviewing their legal options.

The fees were imposed as part of a campaign by Wisconsin utilities for what they call rate fairness. As part of that effort, Milwaukee-based We Energies wanted to assess an additional fee on customers who generate their own power.

The proposal prompted radio ads, online videos for and against, and more than 1,500 public comments.

“This is huge,” said Amy Heart of the solar company Sunrun and the Alliance for Solar Choice, which filed the lawsuit and is challenging utilities in proceedings across the country. “We hadn’t seen any public service commission approve such a high discriminatory charge on solar customers, and the court clearly stated that there needed to be evidence to justify that sort of charge.”

Several other aspects of the We Energies rate case decision, which were not challenged by renewable energy advocates, were allowed to proceed, the utility said Friday.

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Madison passed over for federal grant for $35M bus garage

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Madison is looking for alternatives after being denied a federal grant that was to pay for half of a $35 million Metro Transit bus garage on the city’s east side.

The city has no backup financing plan for the proposed 165,000-square-foot-facility, the Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/1iuyqYBhttps://bit.ly/1iuyqYB ) reported. Construction was supposed to start next year.

“It really puts us in a bind,” Gary Poulson, chairman of the city’s Parking and Transit Commission, said of the federal decision. “We need to do something.”

Metro Transit is seeing record ridership and operating beyond capacity, spokesman Mick Rusch said.

“Our biggest complaints that we receive are that buses are overcrowded, and we can’t keep them on schedule heading across town due to this volume,” Rusch said. “High ridership and crowded buses are good problems for us to have, but since we didn’t get this grant funding, we will have to re-evaluate where we go from here to address these issues.”

The current, sprawling bus garage is more than 30 years old and originally designed to house 160 buses, Rusch said. Currently, 214 40-foot buses and 17 paratransit vehicles for people with disabilities are stored there.

“Even if we had funding for additional drivers and vehicles to help alleviate these overcrowding issues, we don’t have anywhere to put them,” Rusch said.

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