Police called numerous times to restaurant property: Arrests made, citations handed out during what's called a 'civil dispute'

The Shawano Leader/August 26, 2008

Shawano Police officers were called to a local restaurant several times Sunday night and throughout the day Monday and Monday night to keep the peace during a civil dispute.

Three people were arrested and two citations were issued, police said.

The first call came at 11 p.m., when management at Ponderosa Steak House complained a representative of the property's owner, Samanta Roy Institute of Science and Technology, was patrolling the parking lot and taking pictures of the license plates of employees' cars.

The business, owned by an Indiana man, apparently closed for good on Sunday night. The building and property were purchased by SIST in 2003.

On Monday morning, officers responded to several other calls at Ponderosa, where fixtures could be seen being removed from the building and loaded on to trucks. Cars blocked the entrances to the parking lot.

Four people were standing on the sidewalk outside the restaurant. At least two of the four people were taking photographs of the activity, and two SPD squad cars were on the scene.

"We have been feeding these employees for two years without a penny in rent, and then they can strip the property of property that doesn't belong to them," said Naomi Isaacson, an agent for SIST.

"We have a security interest in everything here," she added in remarks to a reporter late Monday morning.

Isaacson, 34, of Minneapolis, was arrested Sunday night for obstructing an officer. Capt. Jeff Heffernon said the officer was in the process of citing Isaacson for loitering, but she refused to give her name. She was taken to the Shawano County Jail, and later released after posting bond.

Kalmar Gronvall, 64, of Shawano, was also cited for loitering. He locked himself in a vehicle and talked on a cell phone after an officer approached, according to a police report.

Isaacson complained police officers were not protecting the property.

"All of our property is being taken, and the police won't do anything but arrest me for being on our property," she said.

Shawano Police Capt. Jeff Heffernon called the dispute "a civil matter."

In property disputes, Heffernon said officers won't take sides, unless someone produces a court order or definitive documentation that he or she owns the property in question.

"When either group feels the lines have been crossed, we'll respond and investigate accordingly, and that's what we have been doing," he said.

As for Isaacson's remarks about police inaction, Heffernon said she was welcome to prepare a citizen's complaint.

Other calls from Ponderosa included one at 1 a.m. asking for extra patrol and another at 6:51 a.m. alleging trespassing, and again at 12:28 p.m. complaining that a tarp had been cut.

At 5:33 p.m., officers were called back to the restaurant in response to a trespassing complaint, Lt. Dan Mauel said.

Manasseh Goldberger, 28, of Reisterstown, Md., was arrested for disorderly conduct and taken to the Shawano County Jail. He allegedly swore at and/or threatened a person or persons at Ponderosa, Mauel said.

Goldberger also received a citation earlier in the day, but Mauel didn't have details on the charge.

Officers returned again at 6:09 p.m. on another trespassing complaint, which Mauel said turned out to be a civil matter.

Officers were called again to the area about 7:48 p.m. to investigate a disturbance. Mauel said a group of bystanders in the Shell station parking lot were yelling at and antagonizing the people apparently associated with SIST. The group was told to disburse, Mauel said.

Also, officers returned to the restaurant at 12:41 a.m. Monday to arrest Lois Heath, 26, of Shawano, on a misdemeanor warrant. Officers took her name during one of the stops and found she had an outstanding warrant, Heffernon said.

The business, owned by William Janney and operating under the business name of Shaw-Bay, Inc., confirmed the closing to a Leader reporter Thursday. He said at the time the restaurant would close at midnight Monday.

Janney, reached by phone on Monday afternoon, hung up on a Leader reporter seeking comments about the incidents Sunday night and Monday.

"Why are you calling me?" he asked.

Janney last week said he would discuss the reasons for the closing this week. He later rescinded that offer after learning the reporter had contacted a Ponderosa employee about the closing.

Employees at the restaurant were apparently unaware of the situation. A restaurant supervisor contacted Thursday afternoon said there had been no notification the restaurant was going to close.

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