Wisconsin State Journal
By Rob Schultz
State law officials on Friday asked a Sauk County judge to send raw milk farmer Vernon Hershberger to jail for breaking conditions of his bail.
The state’s motion to revoke Hershberger’s bail cites a Capital Times report Wednesday in which the Loganville dairy farmer is quoted as saying he continued to sell raw milk and other farm products after the state ordered him to stop. The terms of his bail specify that he not sell or process dairy products without a license.
“It is a concern that any defendant would engage in and openly admit to actions which clearly disregard the court-ordered conditions of release (on bail),” wrote assistant attorneys general Eric Defort and Phillip Ferris in the motion.
Hershberger, 41, was acquitted May 25 by a Sauk County jury on three charges of producing, processing and selling milk without proper state licenses.
But he was found guilty of one count of violating a holding order placed on products on his farm after a 2010 raid by agents from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
That meant Hershberger had to continue to operate under bail conditions set in January 2012 by Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Guy Reynolds that included an order not to sell any food or milk from his store. The state has asked Reynolds to hear the motion on Monday.
Hershberger’s attorney, Glenn Reynolds, called the motion very disappointing because the bail terms he’s accused of violating are the same activities that led to the charges of which he was acquitted.
“It seems vindictive in my view,” he said. “He goes to trial and wins and now they want to put him in jail? What is the point of this sort of motion?”
Department of Justice spokeswoman Dana Brueck declined to comment on the motion.
Reynolds, who was vacationing Friday near Lake Superior, doesn’t expect the hearing to take place Monday due to scheduling problems.
“Every single rule says that you have five days before you have a motion hearing,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds said Friday afternoon that he had not seen the state’s motion and hadn’t talked to Hershberger about it.
“If they want to revoke his bail and put him in jail, they’ll have to do it at a hearing where we take evidence and not just focus on what was said in a newspaper article,” he added.
The Capital Times story Wednesday quoted Hershberger as saying that he never stopped selling raw milk and other products to his buyers club despite a state order on June 2, 2010, to discontinue all dairy sales.
“I can tell you the truth now. We never shut down,” Hershberger said in the article. “We continued to feed our community. That’s the way it continued all along.”
The state’s motion also claims that Hershberger interfered with a inspection by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection on Feb. 9, 2012, after which a Sauk County judge warned Hershberger that any violation of his bail conditions could result in criminal charges.