3 months later, FBI still probes 'implied threat': Mayor frustrated by lack of information, others confident investigation will yield results eventually

Shwano Leader/February 5, 2009

Federal authorities Wednesday said there has been no change in the status of their ongoing investigation into a list of names allegedly implying a threat against 60 Shawano area residents.

FBI Public Affairs Specialist Leonard Peace said the situation remains the same now as it was three months ago to the day when authorities gathered most of the alleged targets at an area hotel to inform them of the list.

Authorities said at the time the investigation was the "top priority" of the FBI's Green Bay field office.

"Nothing has changed in that case," Peace said. "It remains an open investigation. It's ongoing. We have not commented at the start of it and we will continue to follow our policy on not commenting on ongoing investigations."

Also unchanged is the FBI's counsel to those on the list - including many city officials - to be vigilant and watchful of their surroundings.

"What folks were told at the beginning of this investigation stands true today," Peace said.

Peace also said the FBI would let people know if there was any change in the status of the case.

"At that time we would be able to move forth with that information, but as of right now it remains an ongoing investigation," he said.

In the week that followed the FBI meeting, local authorities held the first and only press conference about the case, saying there was a "person of interest" connected with the list who they said was affiliated with the Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology.

Authorities at the press conference also revealed details about the background of the case and said a Canadian resident described as a former business associate of SIST had turned the list over to authorities and was cooperating with the investigation.

The Canadian subject had "allegations that involved possible implied threats that involve residents, elected officials, along with media members of the Shawano area," said Shawano Police Chief Ed Whealon.

Whealon said the man had a list of individuals that SIST felt "were causing them problems in the community." According to Whealon, the man told authorities that "these SIST members wanted 'these people taken care of.'"

SIST CEO Naomi Isaacson issued a statement accusing the city of concocting the list and hiring a Canadian man to swindle the group out of $175,000 - allegations Whealon called "absolutely ludicrous."

Contacted Wednesday, Whealon said there isn't much he can say about what is a federal probe.

"The Shawano Police Department doesn't control the investigation," he said. "They keep us apprised. There's stuff going on…but I can't talk about it."

Whealon said he was confident the investigation would eventually show results.

That would seem to be the view of many people on the list - notwithstanding their sense of frustration over the matter taking so long.

Mayor Lorna Marquardt said the FBI has related that the case is still open and information was still being gathered. But she said she has been frustrated by the slow going and lack of information.

"It is frustrating," she said. "They did give us the little information they shared on the night of the meeting and have been very closed mouth about it (since then). Maybe that's the way the FBI operates, but when you're on a list - maybe those people in law enforcement have experienced having threats made against their lives, I don't know, but for most of the citizenry on the list, we haven't experienced something like this."

Marquardt said she has been told the FBI considers the threat real and they have told her she should continue taking precautions.

Meanwhile, it continues to be a topic of conversation in the community.

"Wherever I go, people say, 'what is the FBI doing?'" Marquardt said. "Some people think this has been blown out of proportion. But when you're on the list I don't think you think it's been blown out of proportion. I've been told by the FBI I'm one of the people at the top of the list - and for physical harm. You can't ignore something like that."

Some local business members on the list expressed a slightly higher level of frustration with the lack of news from the FBI and the slow pace of the investigation.

"The lack of communication gives you a real negative feeling," said Mark Klister. "They should communicate. Everybody's just hanging there."

Klister said he and his family have not taken any extraordinary precautions, and often over the past three months he has been able to forget about the whole thing. At least until he goes to his business offices out of town.

"When I go to Green Bay and Appleton, they joke about it, but it's not a joke," he said.

Common Council President Woody Davis said there is some frustration about being kept in the dark by the FBI, but optimism there will be results.

"We have to have some faith in the FBI that they are going to have some resolution," he said, but added, "I'm disappointed we haven't had some action and at least some information to let us know what has been going on."

Questions also keep coming from people in the community, he said.

"I can't hardly go anywhere without somebody mentioning something about the FBI - 'have we heard from them?' 'Is the investigation still going on?' There's somebody that brings it up on a daily basis," he said.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.