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A Wisconsin Sheriff Thinks Using an Armored Car to Collect Fines from the Elderly is Necessary

A 75-year-old man is suing Marathon County in Wisconsin after they sent an armored car and 24 men to collect a civil fine.

Roger Hoeffner owed the county a lot of money and had been in a big scuffle with the county. He was also ordered to pay up by Oct. 2.

So, the sheriff’s department was sent to collect the $86,000 debt.

Hoeffner’s attorney said that there was no reason to use such an excessive show of force, no matter how much was owed by his elderly client.

“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 with overwhelming force,” Ryan Lister said, adding that the ‘raid’ even sent Hoeppner’s wife to the hospital.

The sheriff, however, countered that his actions were prudent and even necessary these days.

“I’ve been involved in about five standoff situations where, as soon as the [Marathon County Response Vehicle] MARV showed up, the person gives up,” Sheriff Greg Bean said, defending the use of two dozen men and a military vehicle. “People may not always understand why, but an armored vehicle is almost a necessity now.”

Now, after receiving flak for how they treated an elderly resident, the Sheriff’s department even held a press conference on Monday saying they did nothing wrong.

“This has been a long outstanding problem between the resident and the township and it’s been contentious. We’ve had deputies go to town board meetings to do security. We know we’ve had our staff involved to mediate this over a number of months trying to calm the situation and it never got any better,” Marathon County Chief Deputy Chad Billeb told the press.

He also said that the raid-like approach also ultimately saved time, because the armored car made what could have been a three or four day seizure operation a one day affair, although the only thing ‘seized’ was Hoeffner, who was arrested and then released to go to the bank where he ultimately paid the fine.

Photo Credit: Ryan Lister

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.