- Associated Press - Thursday, January 2, 2020

SHAWANO, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin county board member is accused of choking a worker at his farm because the worker and a colleague overslept and missed the start of their shift.

Peter A. Schmidt has been charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and felony strangulation and suffocation, the Shawano County Sheriff’s office said. Schmidt is a member of the county board.

The charges were filed Nov. 25, WBAY-TV reported. According to an affidavit from a sheriff’s deputy, the workers said they overslept Nov. 22. The workers, who lived in employee quarters on the farm, told the deputy that Schmidt entered their room and started yelling at them in Spanish so they would understand. He left for about 15 minutes and returned “more angry” because the workers still weren’t ready.

Through an interpreter, one of the workers said Schmidt then insulted him, choked him, and left him out in the cold. He said Schmidt held him down on the bed and pressed “downward around the base of his neck.” The worker said he was having trouble breathing and losing consciousness.

According to Schmidt’s arrest affidavit, a video recorded on the phone of another worker shows Schmidt holding down the worker by the throat on his bed and yelling in Spanish something about “respecting the boss.” The video also shows Schmidt packing the workers’ belongings, throwing them out, and telling them to leave.

When Schmidt spoke to detectives, he said he held the worker in place by his neck but “didn’t choke him out.”

Schmidt posted a $500 cash bond and has a preliminary hearing set for Jan. 16.

His attorney, Nila Robinson, did not immediately return a call for comment.

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