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News roundup: Wisconsin landscaper discovers human jawbone while working
Jill Odom | September 11, 2017
jawbone fossil

Note this is not the jawbone that was discovered.
Photo: brankomaster/Flickr

A landscaper working on a driveway at a residence in Wind Point, Wisconsin, discovered a macabre sight on Thursday when a jawbone was spotted.

The landscaper alerted the homeowner, who then called law enforcement. The Racine County Sheriff Office investigated and gave the mandible, complete with teeth, over to forensic pathologists at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine if they were human and if so the age and gender of the deceased.

“It was about 12 to 18 inches from the top of the grass,” Sheriff Christopher Schmaling told Madison.com. “It appears consistent to what a human’s looks like, but I’m not an expert. Before we take any more law enforcement action we’ll let the experts look at it.”

On Friday, investigators sifted through the dirt in a small dump truck labeled Aspen Property Care used at the site. Schmaling expects determining where the mandible came from will be challenging since the homes were built in the 1980s and the bone could have come from fill material used then.

Locals hypothesize that the jawbone could belong to an early settler, as the property was previously farmland before development.

“At the end of the day, if this does turn out to be a human being, they deserve better than this,” Schmaling told Madison.com. “If a family out there needs closure, that’s what we work for. We work for victims.”

The Racine County Sheriff Office confirmed that the bone was indeed human and it is possible the mandible is several decades old. They are not investigating it as homicide at this time.

Landscape trailers and equipment thefts in Massachusetts and Illinois

In Norwood, Massachusetts, police are reporting a trailer thief is on the loose and targeting landscaping companies.

Police Chief William Brooks says that officers have responded to three reports of stolen landscaping trailers in the past 10 days and that last month there were four incidents of trailer theft.

Brooks told Patch.com that two of the trailers were in fenced in areas, but were still stolen.

“The suspects appear to be targeting trailers, knowing that many valuables are stored inside,” the police department wrote on its Facebook page. “Take extra precaution in not only securing your equipment but securing the trailers so that they cannot be easily removed from your property for later dismantling. While we can only account for the thefts in our community, those living in neighboring towns should also take caution.”

Meanwhile in Oak Park, Illinois, more than $13,000 worth of chainsaws, leaf blowers, pickaxes, lawn mowers and other landscaping equipment was stolen last week.

Police believe it took place sometime between Sept. 3 and Sept. 5. In order to steal the tools, police say they used “brute force” to get through a wooden fence and enter the property. The thieves used tools to break the locks on three separate trailers.

The tools they stole included two Stihl chainsaws, eight Echo backpack blowers, nine Echo line trimmers and more.

Landscape company owner sentenced for failing to pay prevailing wages

Back in January, 52-year-old Scott Devereux was indicted on six counts of fraud and 10 counts of filing false documents with the government. He has now reached a plea agreement.

The owner of Cedarburg Landscaping, based in Mequon, Wisconsin, will spend six months in prison as well as another six of home detention for failing to pay state and federal wages to his workers.

Additionally, he will have to pay $242,000 in restitution. Devereux is also barred from applying for any government contracts for three years. Cedarburg Landscaping was awarded two dozen highway contracts from 2012 to 2015, totaling about $60 million.

One employee told investigators that he was paid between $12 and $15 an hour in 2013 and between $17 and $21 in 2014. He joined the union in 2013, which required he be paid $23 an hour plus $20 in fringe benefits.

Federal sentencing guidelines dictate that Devereux should receive 27 to 33 months in prison, but by admitting that he paid workers less than the prevailing wage and overstated wages on reports in his plea agreement, he was able to avoid this.

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