Saturday, May 05, 2012
Milwaukee County Sheriff Sergeant Phil Wentzel charged with child porn
A Milwaukee County sheriff's sergeant who once served as a spokesman for the department has been charged in federal court with producing child pornography over at least two years.
Phil Wentzel, 41, of West Allis is being held in the Waukesha County Jail without bail after appearing in court in Milwaukee on Thursday. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 15 years in prison.
Wentzel admitted to the FBI that he drugged and molested girls and took pornographic images of them, U.S. Attorney James Santelle said Friday. Wentzel told agents he had a difficult time controlling his urges, Santelle said.
"That some of these images depict minors being sexually assaulted aggravates the criminal conduct - and underscores the connection between abusive physical conduct and the online sharing and distribution of child pornography," Santelle said.
Wentzel, most recently a supervisor in the sheriff's patrol division, is suspended with pay pending the outcome of an internal investigation, according to Capt. Scott Stiff, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. He was arrested Wednesday at work.
A statement from the sheriff's office said: "Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. is disgusted with the nature of the allegations against the deputy as they were briefed to him. Our office cannot comment further on this case, as we are not in charge of the investigation."
An attorney representing Wentzel did not return a call for comment.
The FBI investigation of Wentzel began in July 2011 after agents in Denver raided the home of a man suspected of child pornography and found links to Wentzel on the man's computer, according to the criminal complaint.
On encrypted files, agents found child pornography including geographic coordinates, which led them to a lot in a campground near Campbellsport. The campground owner said the lot had been rented by Wentzel since 2008.
Computer searches also pointed to a computer used in Franklin, where Wentzel once lived. He moved out after he and his wife filed for divorce this year, records show.
The complaint says Wentzel used his accounts from various computers including two instances last year where he accessed it with Milwaukee County computers.
The complaint does not say how many different children may have been assaulted and photographed by Wentzel, but it appears to be several.
One of the girls became quiet in the past year and missed a lot of school, according to an adult who knew her. The girl had finger bruises on her arm, the person told the FBI.
The FBI is looking for anyone with information about the child pornography case against Wentzel. People are asked to call (414) 276-4684.