'Implied threat' story goes national: CBS News airs story about FBI investigation

Shawano Leader/December 18, 2008

The "eye" was on Shawano Wednesday night.

CBS News aired a report on the investigation of the "implied threat" against 60 people in Shawano, which has been under investigation by the FBI for about six weeks.

The five-minute story featured scenes of Shawano, including shots of the Santa Parade on Dec. 5, interspersed with a description of the sensational story.

Headlines on the screen blared "Murder for Hire?" "Town in Fear" and "Contract to Kill?" during anchor Katie Couric's introduction.

City officials and community residents say the community was treated fairly.

"They didn't do as bad as I thought they would with the story," said Kimberly Jahnke of Shawano, who watched the report while having dinner at Luigi's. "I thought they were going to rip into Shawano. It was a nice surprise."

Mayor Lorna Marquardt was featured prominently in the story. She was seen showing CBS News correspondent Arman Keteyian the new metal door to her office at City Hall.

Marquardt said she was pleased with the report and isn't concerned about the possible negative impact on the community.

"With a national news story, it's not about tourism and I don't think it will keep anybody from coming to Shawano," Marquardt said.

Shawano Common Council president Woody Davis said the story was thorough, but said the story couldn't be as in-depth as he would have liked.

"I think they did the city of Shawano a pretty good favor, saying that we were a Midwestern community proud of our activities," Davis said. "They were very good to us."

Also interviewed for the story was Milwaukee attorney Alan Eisenberg, who represents the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology. The "implied threats" were linked to SIST, according to authorities.

Eisenberg said he was able to listen to the report in his car while traveling back to Milwaukee from Waupaca. Eisenberg said he wasn't impressed. "What I heard was an extreme disappointment, a calculated smear job and I don't understand it," he said.

"What information did you get that you really haven't already seen?" Eisenberg added.

He said he spent two hours in his office being interviewed by Keteyian, "and they ran 1 percent of it."

Eisenberg said the story was a "smear job" and that Keteyian "persisted in asking loaded questions that were veiled accusations."

But Marquardt said Keteyian was professional and compassionate.

"To him, I didn't feel it was just a story," Marquardt said. "He saw the human interest in it."

While filming in downtown Shawano, Keteyian and WSAW-TV reporter Michael Lauber were approached by two men - ostensibly associated with SIST - who photographed and videotaped them.

Marquardt said Keteyian called her after the segment aired to get her feedback.

"Hopefully this will spur some further investigation into this whole thing. I'm hoping the FBI will bring some closure to this," she said.

Jahnke expressed a similar sentiment.

"I just wish it would go away," she said. "I think the whole thing is just getting blown way out of proportion."

Andy Jahnke, with his wife at Luigi's, said he was surprised a national network picked up the story.

"It's amazing how far it's gone," he said. "I wouldn't say we had our eyes glued to the news cast, but we were watching it pretty closely. It's the first time I can remember that Shawano has made the national news scene."

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