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Informant finally gets prison time

For years, Paul Douglas Kastern, 41, has legally given justice the slip. Now, the game he once played has landed him in the Wisconsin prison system for the next five years. Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Michael Lucci on Tuesday sentenced the...

For years, Paul Douglas Kastern, 41, has legally given justice the slip.

Now, the game he once played has landed him in the Wisconsin prison system for the next five years. Douglas County Circuit Court Judge Michael Lucci on Tuesday sentenced the Superior man to 18 months initial confinement and 42 months extended supervision for dealing methamphetamine.

Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank said it's a "breakthrough case," one of the rare examples of a drug dealer getting more than probation or time in the county jail.

"It was less than I was asking for, but a lot more than what the defense suggested," Blank said. "It's the kind of message we hope to send ... that a meth dealer will go to prison."

Blank had hoped the former police informant would serve five years in prison with another five years extended supervision.

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Kastern's attorney, Public Defender Leslie Dollen, argued for probation or a sentence served in the Douglas County Jail -- one similar to more than 20 other people charged and sentenced since 2005 for similar crimes. After all, while Kastern's charge history does back to the 1980s, convictions are few because of his willingness to help law enforcement to escape his own legal trouble.

Ironically, an unidentified confidential informant facing drug possession charges helped break the case, said Detective Michael Miller, the Douglas County Sheriff's Department's narcotics and vice investigator. Miller arrested Kastern in September after executing a search warrant issued by Lucci after an unidentified informant successfully bought meth from Kastern under controlled conditions.

"Because good, honest people don't know where to get drugs, we have to use some of these less-than-perfect individuals, because they're in that game," Miller said. "We have to use drug users who are in the game and hang out with that kind of clientele."

Kastern's pattern was to become an informant and work with police when he got into legal trouble. He went as far as setting up his own attorney, Blank said. In 2002, Kastern and his wife were living on property in Foxboro owned by Superior attorney Michael Inglimo. According to court records, the couple videotaped the attorney snorting cocaine and smoking marijuana. Kastern provided then-Superior Police Detective Herb Bergson with information about that incident and a subsequent drug party that involved a 17-year-old girl smoking marijuana.

Inglimo entered a no contest plea to possession of marijuana under an agreement that dismissed marijuana delivery and cocaine possession charges against him.

"...every time he got in trouble, he'd go to the police because he lived in that drug subculture ... and he'd get less of a punishment or no punishment depending on what it was," Miller said. "That's kind of been his M.O. (modus operandi) for the last several years."

Miller believes Kastern would have done this again, given the chance, when a search turned up seven grams of marijuana and a variety of drug paraphernalia. His belief is based on inmate calls Kastern made, which are routinely recorded at the Douglas County Jail.

" ... He was actually making recorded phone calls to set people up that weren't doing anything ... that's been his way for years," Miller said.

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However, Dollen doesn't see the sentence as fair, given the lack of convictions over the years. She pointed to more than 20 similar cases in which the offenders' sentences leveled local jail time with work release privileges, probation, or both. As examples, she cited a case involving a father smoking meth with his teenage daughter and stepdaughter, and a man charged with cooking meth in Gordon.

Blank and Miller say many sentences have been far too lenient.

In the case of Ron Meysman, who gave meth to his daughters, Blank asked for initial prison confinement for two years, Miller said. "The judge gave him 10 months" in the county jail.

In Kastern's case, "What Paul's been caught for is just a minute part of what Paul's done in this community," Miller said. "For people who are serious offenders, we can't seem to get prison time on them. I don't think we should send people with addictions -- strictly addictions -- to prison. But when you're selling drugs for money or profiteering -- when you're giving it to children or you're cooking it ... to me those are all things that step it up a level, and regardless of your history ... I think we have to take a stronger stance."

Shelley Nelson can be reached at (715) 395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com .

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