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News from around Wisconsin (10:49 p.m. 11/24/09)

Woman accused of drugging, locking child in closet

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A woman trying to control her 5-year-old daughter’s tantrums is accused of repeatedly tying up the child, starving her and drugging her to calm her down.

Heidi L. Duesing-Christensen, 30, of Columbus, was charged Monday with child enticement, child abuse, child neglect, second-degree reckless endangerment and bail jumping, all felonies. Her attorney, listed in court records as Elizabeth Mitchel, didn’t immediately return a message Tuesday.

Duesing-Christensen’s daughter has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a search warrant affidavit.

Earlier this month, Duesing-Christensen sent the girl to visit her father, Christ Christensen, in Tucson, Ariz. She told him the girl wasn’t sleeping and was throwing tantrums, according to the criminal complaint.

On Nov. 6 Duesing-Christensen sent Christ Christensen a text message saying she had given the girl two adult doses of Benadryl to put her to sleep but she was still up screaming, beating on her door and thrashing around.

“Enough med to knock 2 adults out,” the message said. “It’s been 3 wks now. Nonstop. Cant take another minute of this.”

After his daughter arrived in Tucson, her father noticed bruises all over her body and took her to the hospital. Medical reports indicate she weighed 29 pounds and had multiple bruises on her arms, legs and back as well as scabs on her wrists and ankles, the complaint said.

Board fires Wis. vets secretary who served in Iraq

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Board on Tuesday fired Department Secretary John Scocos two months after he returned from serving in Iraq, blaming him for a host of financial and communications problems at the agency.

The board voted 5-0 to fire Scocos during a special meeting at the agency’s Madison headquarters after spending 90 minutes berating him for keeping them in the dark about key decisions and other missteps. The board, which had long feuded with Scocos, immediately named department administrator Ken Black the next secretary.

Scocos, who held the secretary’s job since 2003, told reporters he was given the option of resigning but declined. He said his firing was unfair and he would take legal action against the board and its members alleging they violated a federal law that protects the job rights of returning military members.

Scocos served two tours of duty in Iraq as a colonel with the U.S. Army Reserve, most recently returning from one year deployment in September. He said his working conditions changed while he was gone and he has been harassed by the board since his return.

“There’s been an agenda from Day 1 when I got back and it hasn’t quit,” Scocos said. “The threats and intimidation … personalities, political agendas.”

Scocos was appointed in 2003 by a board consisting of Republican political appointees. All the current board members were appointed by Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, who is not close with Scocos.

The department runs benefits programs for the state’s estimated 430,000 veterans, nursing homes in King and Union Grove and a veterans museum. The board sets policy for the department, which has more than 1,100 employees and a two-year budget of $285 million, and hires and fires the secretary.

Vita Food recalls herring-sour cream product

CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago-based Vita Food Products has announced the recall of its Elf Branded Herring in Sour Cream product because of trace amounts of wheat.

According to Vita Food, labels on the product do not disclose the product contains wheat. People who are on gluten-free diets run a risk of serious adverse consequences by consuming the product.

The recalled herring was distributed in stores in California, Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Recalled are the 12-ounce and 8-ounce Elf Branded Herring in Sour Cream items. They have “best if used before” dates of April 12, 2010 or earlier and UPC Codes of 0-73302-22111-4 and 0-73302-23111-3.

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