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WASHBURN COUNTY -- The court has sentenced a 4th person, Sarah Kowarsch, for convictions stemming from a series of storage unit burglaries in Washburn County in 2020.

A lengthy law enforcement investigation into a series of storage unit burglaries led to criminal charges for 5 people. At least 7 storage unit facilities in Washburn County were burglarized. Items reported stolen from the units included firearms, fishing equipment and supplies, hunting equipment and supplies, power tools, propane tanks, chainsaw, welders, generators, golf clubs, ice shack, ice auger, ladders, vehicle titles, birth certificates, photo albums, china, jewelry, and other collectibles.

Investigators identified the burglary suspects as Shaun Johnson, Sarah Kowarsch, Keith Velasco, Delayna York, and Samantha Okonek, and criminal charges were filed against all five.

Kowarsch was charged with 9 counts of Class F Felony Conspiracy to Commit Burglary of Building-Dwelling, and 1 count of Class F Felony Burglary of Building-Dwelling filed against her in 10 different criminal complaints. She appeared on June 8, 2022, for a sentencing hearing on 2 convictions of Class F Felony Conspiracy to Commit Burglary of Building-Dwelling and 1 conviction of Class F Felony Burglary of Building-Dwelling. The remaining charges against her were dismissed but read in at a hearing in March 2022.

The Hon. Angeline Winton ordered Kowarsch to serve a 5-year prison sentence on one conviction of Class F Felony Conspiracy to Commit Burglary of Building-Dwelling with 2 years of initial confinement and 3 years of extended supervision. Kowarsch is to serve that prison term consecutively to the prison term she received for her Burnett County convictions (see below). The Court ordered 6 years of probation on each of her other two Washburn County convictions; she is to serve that probation consecutively to her Washburn sentence.

Kowarsch was previously sentenced in Burnett County Circuit Court on multiple cases and ordered to serve two prison sentences at the same time: 3 years of initial confinement in state prison for one conviction of Class F Felony Burglary Building-Dwelling (Party to a Crime) and 1.5 years of confinement for a conviction of Class I Felony Possession of Methamphetamine (Party to a Crime).

She will serve 3 years of extended supervision following the completion of that sentence.

Following the completion of these sentences, Kowarsch will start serving two imposed and stayed prison sentences for 9 years each on convictions in Burnett County for two counts of Class F Felony Burglary Building-Dwelling (Party to a Crime) and a 6-year imposed and stayed prison sentence on one count of Class H Felony Bail Jump with 5 years of probation. Should this probation be revoked, Kowarsch will face 5 years of additional confinement in state prison followed by 4 years of extended supervision. The remainder of the charges against her in Burnett County were dismissed but read in.

Kowarsch was previously sentenced in Barron County Circuit Court on 1 count of Class F Felony Burglary Building-Dwelling (Party to a Crime). The Court ordered a 10-year imposed and stayed prison sentence with 5 years of probation. If probation should be revoked, Kowarsch will face 5 years of initial confinement in state prison followed by 5 years of extended supervision. Conditions of probation will require Kowarsch to maintain absolute sobriety, and complete any and all evaluations, counseling, treatment, and follow-up recommended by her Probation Agent.

Shaun Johnson is charged in Washburn County Circuit Court with 9 counts of Class F Felony Conspiracy to Commit Burglary of Building-Dwelling; Class I Felony Possession of Methamphetamine; Misdemeanor Possession of THC; 5 counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia filed;  and Class C Felony Possess with Intent Amphetamine (>50g), and Class H Felony Bail Jumping. Johnson is scheduled to appear on June 15, 2022, for a sentencing hearing.

Johnson was previously sentenced in Burnett County Circuit Court on multiple felony cases and ordered to serve a 7-year imposed and stayed sentence for 1 count of Class F Felony Burglary Building-Dwelling (Party to a Crime) with 1 year of conditional jail time and 5 years of probation. Johnson also received a sentence of 1-year confinement in jail, to be served at the same time as his conditional jail for the burglary conviction, for a conviction of Class I Felony Possession of Methamphetamine (Party to a Crime). The remaining charges filed against him in Burnett County Circuit Court were dismissed but read in.

Delayna York was recently sentenced in Washburn County Circuit Court on two convictions of Class F Felony Conspiracy to Commit Burglary of Building-Dwelling. Judge Winton ordered York to serve a withheld sentence with 4 years of probation on each conviction. The remaining charges against here were dismissed but read in.

In March 2022 the Court accepted a 3-year Deferred Conviction Agreement for Samantha Okonek for a charge of Class F Felony Conspiracy to Commit Burglary of Building-Dwelling. Details of the conditions of the agreement are not listed in online court records. The Court also accepted Okonek’s plea of guilty to a charge of Misdemeanor Possession of THC, Party to a Crime, and ordered Okonek to serve 1 year of probation, maintain absolute sobriety, and pay costs. Okonek received credit for 2 days of confinement in jail already served, and 185 days of treatment completed. The remaining charges against her were dismissed but read in.

Keith Velasco was previously sentenced in January 2022 and received a 6-year imposed and stayed prison sentence on each of two convictions for Class F Felony Conspiracy to Commit Burglary of Building-Dwelling with 5 years of probation to be served concurrently. If Velasco’s probation should be revoked, he will face 3 years of initial confinement followed by 3 years of extended supervision. Velasco also received credit for 172 days of confinement in county jail. His remaining charges were dismissed but read in.

Pursuant to the direction of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, as found in Supreme Court Rule 20:3.6, Trial Publicly, you are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.


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