« WSAU Opinion Blog

OPINION - Special treatment

by Chris Conley

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) We’re taken calls and heard the complaints. Many people believe Kim Heonisch, the wife of former Marathon County sheriff Randy Heonisch, is getting special treatment in the criminal justice system. I’ve weighed-in staying I don’t think so. Today I’m changing my mind.

Kim Hoenisch is awaiting sentencing on a series of charges relating to prescription painkiller abuse. While she was working as a probation officer, she was stealing pills from the parolees she was supervising. She’s pled ‘no contest’. She is going to jail for her crimes.

Until now, the only thing unusual about her case was the special prosecutor. That’s unusual, but this was a case where a special prosecutor was appropriate. Mrs. Hoenisch worked for the state corrections department. Mr. Hoenisch was the county sheriff. Local prosecutors work with both of those offices, so bringing in someone who doesn’t made sense.

There is one thing that doesn’t sit right.

Kim Hoenisch’s mug shot has never been released. In fact, it’s not clear if a mug shot was ever taken. That’s fundamentally different than other criminal cases. If you or I were charged with a serious crime, we’d indeed be photographed during the booking process and that mug shot would be available to the media.

Now Kim Hoenisch is in trouble again. Earlier this month Hoenisch got into a shouting and pushing incident at a relative’s home in Berlin. Our newsroom got a tip the day after the incident that Hoenisch had been taken to the Marathon County jail. We followed up. Our calls were not returned. Additionally, Hoenisch made a court appearance in connection with this incident where she was released on signature bond. The information surrounding all of this was not entered into the state’s on-line court records, which the media use to track such cases. Even today (Tues, Jul 23) the information has not been posted. That means we still don’t have an official record of the charges, and we don’t know the court-status of her case. If you or I faced charges, the information would be on-line in a matter of days.

There are more questions. Why wasn’t Kim Hoenisch charged with a bail violation for being arrested while out on bond? In most cases, bond is revoked when someone runs afoul of the law while awaiting sentencing.  Was alcohol involved in this shoving incident? Absolute sobriety is almost always a bail requirement. We don’t know if the arresting officers asked, or checked. Was the former sheriff there? We don’t know. If he was, what interaction took place between him and the deputies who arrived at the scene? After all, they had the unenviable task of arresting the wife of their former boss.

Ultimately, I feel sorry for Kim Hoenisch. She’s an addict. Her sorry condition today shows the irrationality of people who are dependent on drugs.

But it’s now clear that her case is being handled differently. Things would not be the same if you or I made the same reckless choices.

Chris Conley
7.24.13


Since writing this blog, a mug shot of Kim Hoenisch from her 7/16 arrest has been released. A mug shot from the initial charges has never been made public.