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New Richmond man sentenced for church burglaries

Forum News Service

HUDSON, Wis. — A 42-year-old New Richmond man who burglarized several St. Croix County churches last year once had designs on becoming a youth pastor, but eventually became sidetracked and consumed by drugs — a divergence that delivered him a prison sentence on Feb. 17.

William D. Rushford, who had pleaded guilty to three burglary charges in November stemming from break-ins to churches in Hudson, New Richmond, the town of St. Joseph and the town of Star Prairie in August 2016, told St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Michael Waterman that the past several months of sobriety he’s experienced behind bars have refocused him and his priorities.

“It’s drugs, your honor,” Rushford said at his sentencing hearing Friday. “They got a hold of me.”

The mea culpa didn’t sway Waterman, who followed prosecution’s recommendation and sentenced Rushford to three years in prison and three years on supervised release. The judge said that if he followed defense counsel’s recommendation — lengthy probation and additional jail time — then “the public wouldn’t take the justice system seriously.”

Rushford told Waterman he already had a job lined up that would help pay for the $14,830 in restitution he must pay the churches. He broke down further as he imagined how his own congregation might have felt if victimized by a burglar.

“They deserve that money,” he said.