Court docs: Man cites cancer caused by contamination for motive in Wauleco graffiti

Published: Aug. 19, 2016 at 1:05 PM CDT
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Two men said they were offered to be paid for painting dollar signs and question marks on buildings at the Waluleco Company property in Wausau in March.

William Champine, 46, and Michael Gehr, 51, told investigators they were offered $250 to paint the buildings. According to court documents, Champine's friend, later identified as Charles Betts, 41, told one of the men the contamination from the former Crestline Windows factory was to blame for his cancer.

Crestline Windows factory, formerly located near the 3M plant off Thomas Street, built windows and doors for nearly 50 years. People who live, and used to live around there believe the plant is responsible for damage to their health, property, even causing death in some cases.

According to court documents, Betts hinted to one of the men he was in the middle of a pending lawsuit due to his health.

From 1946 to 1986, a product known as Penta was commonly used at the Crestline plant. In 2011, during a special NewsChannel 7 report, we learned Penta contained hazardous chemicals, including dioxins, which are classified as a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

During those 40 years, it's alleged Penta was routinely spilled and discharged into the environment, contaminating the air, soil, and groundwater in the River Street neighborhood.

According to court documents, Champine and Gehr said they jumped the fence at site around 2 a.m. on March 13 and spray painted 18 small structures. The men said Betts wanted the community to know about “big corporation corruption”.

Betts was charged this week with conspiracy to commit graffiti. He's free on $750 signature bond.

On Aug. 3, Gehr was ordered to spend one year in jail during a plea deal that consolidated six criminal cases including his graffiti charge.

Champine was charged July 20 with graffiti and bail jumping. He's scheduled to return to court Sept. 6 and is free on a $1,000 signature bond.

to read the special report about Crestline from 2011.