Archive for July, 2011

When Keystone Cops Attach

So, facetiously, what caused the Wisconsin Capitol Police to, FINALLY, put up the crime scene tape in the Capitol rotunda on July 25? Was it threats to the lives of lawmakers? Was it staffers of elected representatives once again being party to the crime of criminal trespass?  Was it protestors vandalizing the historic building’s expensive marble?  Not a chance.  When it comes to these actual events, the Capitol Police appear to don their blinders, even if video captures the perpetrators committing criminal offenses.

Yet the Capitol Police did affect an actual felony arrest this week—the crime: the popping of a protestor’s balloon. 

Go ahead, laugh, but one can imagine Chief Tubbs and his investigators chalking-out the balloon as it tumbled to the marble floor.  ‘We need to expand the scene,’ one of the investigators shouts to a police officer in uniform.  ‘There may be DNA left behind from the cutting instrument.’

Even though this incident sounds like a goofy skit from Saturday Night Live, the Capitol Police actually took a man into custody and referred the alleged perpetrator to the Dane County DA’s office for the felony change of recklessly endangering safety.  Now, Ron Blair, a facilities manager at the Capitol, is on leave from his job with state government. The Capitol Police allege that Blair, in an attempt to pop the balloon, waived a sharp object. 

Ironically, late last March, the Dane County District Attorney’s office finally got around to charging Katherine R. Windels of Cross Plains. According the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Windels sent an e-mail to 15 lawmakers that read, in part: “Atten: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!” and “Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.

“I hope you have a good time in hell,” Windels allegedly wrote, explaining that she would end the lives of targeted lawmakers via bombings and by “putting a nice little bullet in your head.”

Charged with a serious felony, the Dane County DA’s office refused to have Windels arrested. Instead, officials permitted her to stroll into intake court to answer a summons. 

Politics, I am sure, had nothing to do with the way either of these investigations proceeded, right?

This balloon popping incident, at best, merits a civil forfeiture disorderly conduct citation, which will then allow Chief Tubbs’  forensic investigators to remove the crime scene tape before the Dane County Coroner orders an autopsy.

A Note to Law Enforcement Vendors: Canadian Border Police Need 21st Century Drug Testing Kits

For Americans spending a portion of their summers hiking and fishing in Canada, here is a post it note: leave the 5W-30 at home.

Janet Goodin, a 66-year-old grandmother from Warroad, Minnesota, found that out the hard way in April. 

Looking to drop a few greenbacks at a Canadian bingo hall just a hop, skip, and jump over the border in the Manitoba town of Sprague, Goodin stopped to pay a required duty.  Taking an apparent page out of the TSA’s policy manual, agents from the Canadian Border Services flagged Goodin for additional screening. 

“So I got up there and they pulled me over for a search,” Goodin told Minnesota Public Radio.  “I was just concerned for being late for bingo. I wasn’t concerned for anything else.”

Little did Goodin know that the cargo secreted in her vehicle might land her a role in the Canadian version of Midnight Express.

A border agent found a canning jar inside of Goodin’s vehicle, which, like most of us, she shares with other family members. The agent asked the grandmother what was inside the receptacle, but Goodin did not know.  The agent took the bottle for preliminary drug testing, which, the agent claimed, came back positive for heroin.

The Canadian Border Service then arrested and stripped searched Goodin.  A magistrate set her bail at $5,000 and a $15,000 surety, requiring her daughters to back the note with the titles of their American properties.  However, a judge refused to accept the titles as collateral, which meant Goodin, living primarily on a fixed income, remained a guest at a Canadian jail for the next 12 days.

But when the suspected heroin was sent to a Canadian crime lab, a chemist discovered the brownish substance to be dirty motor oil.   

The response from the Canadian Border Services: ah, well, never mind. 

“Whenever the CBSA becomes aware of erroneous field tests, we will review that case and determine appropriate next steps and where appropriate, take corrective action,” spokeswoman Lisa White told the Winnipeg Free Press.

Of course, Canadian authorities did drop the charges against Goodin. Nonetheless, the experience has understandably left a bad taste in her mouth. 

“Two weeks out of somebody else’s life might not seem so long,” Goodin is quoted in the Winnipeg newspaper, “but when you get to be my age and you see the end coming, every day counts.”


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. 

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Organized Crime Flick Provides Insight into Thug Life

One of SF’s popular blog posts is Max & the Mob, the story of Max Adonnis and his involvement with organized crime in Milwaukee.

For those of you interested in the workings of organized crime, the movie Kill the Irishman is a must see.  The DVD was released in mid-June.

I purchased the book, by the same name, after its release in 2004. The author, Rick Porrello, is a retired Cleveland PD detective.  Porrello began his law enforcement career when he was just 18-years-old.  In his early 30s, he made detective and was soon assigned to the Special Investigations Unit, where he kept tabs on that city’s mob scene. 

Portello grew-up in the same blue collar neighborhood as Danny Greene, an Irish ruffian who hardened his fists warding-off a group of tough Sicilian kids.  After working as a laborer on the Cleveland docks, Greene stepped into the organized crime scene by taking over the longshoreman’s union, where he hatched a  two-bit larceny ring, which included both Irish union associates and members of Cleveland’s Italian crime family. These crews looted cargo trailers while leaving a trail of enemies that eventually ratted Greene out.  While in custody, Greene maintained the code of silence. Once he was released, he became a smarter criminal and soon found work with a Jewish gangster’s loan sharking operation.

But, like most organized crime figures, the list of Greene’s enemies grew.  He soon found himself in hot water with the godfather of Cleveland’s Jewish mob—a man Greene later killed.

Greene’s rise within Cleveland’s organized crime hierarchy later caused him to run afoul with a La Cosa Nostra crime family.  The battle for Cleveland was on, as bombs exploded and bodies were scraped from the pavement. The movie features some actual footage of crime scenes; however, the message is simple: very few of those living the thug life reach the retirement age untouched by perdition or the law.

SF gives Kill the Irishman five stars. The movie brought back memories of Augie  Palmisano, the Milwaukee organized crime figure allegedly killed by a member of the Chicago mob on June 30, 1978.  


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.  

If your organization is on the lookout for a fascinating guest speaker, please consider Steve Spingola’s Psychology of Homicide Presentation.  To learn more, visit:

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Karma and Casey

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© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

The Mitchell Nevin Enigma

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Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is in need of an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011