County supervisor gets fine, revocation for 1st offense OWI

Capelle pulled over in November after running a stop sign

A Shawano County supervisor arrested for drunken driving in November pleaded no contest Thursday to two of the four citations issued against him.

Kenneth E. Capelle, 78, was ordered to pay a $924.50 fine and had his driver’s license revoked for 12 months after being found guilty of first-offense operating while intoxicated and refusing to submit to a blood draw.

He will also have to have an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle he owns or is registered to him for 12 months and participate in an AODA assessment before his license is reinstated. He was also charged $42.50 for the blood drawn that was eventually taken after authorities obtained a warrant.

Citations for operating with a prohibited blood/alcohol count and running a stop sign were dismissed as part of the agreement.

Shawano County Assistant District Attorney Alec Ballo said the penalties were standard and consistent with state guidelines.

“The county doesn’t believe that its terribly aggravated,” Ballo said. “Law enforcement stopped the defendant when he blew through a stop sign. That is dangerous behavior, but there was nobody in the area, so we’re treating it like a non-aggravated circumstance. We’re just asking that the defendant be treated consistent with the guidelines and be treated like everybody else under similar circumstances.”

Capelle’s attorney, Jack Bartholomew, disagreed with the state’s characterization of blowing through a stop sign.

“We don’t think it was a dangerous situation,” he said.

“However,” Bartholomew said, “we agree sufficient grounds were there for a stop and that’s all it takes. So we agree the guidelines should apply. It’s not an aggravated situation. My client gets treated just like every other one of these cases and that’s what’s being recommended. So it’s acceptable to us.”

Asked if he wanted to make a statement to the court, Capelle took the apparent instruction of his attorney, who shook his head at Capelle and said, “no.”

Capelle said he had no statement after the hearing.

Judge William Kussel Jr. noted that first-offense OWI was a non-criminal matter but said he felt compelled to comment on drunken driving cases.

“When you operate a motor vehicle, when you’re under the influence of intoxicants, it’s a very dangerous situation,” Kussel said. “Dangerous to the person who operates that motor vehicle and also all the innocent people on the road.”

Kussel said the penalties in this case would not only be punishment for the offense but should be a deterrent to others.

Capelle, who represents County Board District 9, which is comprised of Cecil and Ward 1 of the town of Washington, was pulled over shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 29 after a sheriff’s deputy spotted his vehicle going through a stop sign at Freeborn Street and Warrington Avenue in the village of Cecil, according to the deputy’s report.

Capelle refused to submit to a blood draw to determine his blood/alcohol count. A warrant was obtained to get a blood sample.

According to the state crime lab, Capelle had a blood alcohol level of 0.168, more than twice the legal limit.

Capelle had initially asked for a jury trial before accepting the plea agreement.