In the small Wisconsin town of Stettin, they have an interesting way of collecting judgements. The town sent a militarized SWAT team complete with 24 armed officers and an armored vehicle to collect $86,000 owed by one 75-year-old man.
Roger Hoeppner has been tied up in a long legal battle with the town over the maintenance of his land, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.The town says it has been attempting to get Hoeppner to clean up his 20 acres of land for years, to no avail. It has won several court cases against him and said he has not abided by previous agreements to straighten up his property.
In April 2013, a court imposed a $500 per day fine on Hoeppner until he cleaned the land to the town’s satisfaction.
On Oct. 2, the town obtained a court order to collect $80,000 Hoeppner owed in back fines — and that’s when things got interesting. Stettin officials decided the best way to collect the funds was to send a small army to the septuagenarian’s home.
When Hoeppner saw the military force assembled outside his front door, he called his lawyer, Ryan Lister, who took off for his client’s house immediately. Unfortunately, he was stopped at a roadblock the town set up until his client was led away in handcuffs, according to the Journal Sentinel.
“Rather than provide Mr. Hoeppner or his counsel notice…and attempt to collect without spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on the military-style maneuvers, the town unilaterally decided to enforce its civil judgment,” Lister told the newspaper.
The reasoning used by officials is a scary glimpse into the fact that Gestapo tactics may become commonplace in the near future.
Sheriff’s Capt. Greg Bean said that while Hoeppner was not considered dangerous, he was known to be argumentative.
“People may not always understand why, but an armored vehicle is almost a necessity now,” Bean said.
At the end of the conflict — at gunpoint, essentially — Hoeppner paid his fines. That is, after he was driven to a bank by sheriff’s deputies.
I think I’ve seen some similar methods used in Mafia movies.