Four more warrants issued for Retzlaff

Defendant skips in-person court appearance, tries to get in via Zoom
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

Marathon County Circuit Court Judge Mark Moran had some sharp words about former campground owner Ann Retzlaff when she failed to appear in court Jan. 12 in person as he ordered.

“I ordered that she be here in person, and she’s not here in person,” Moran said. “I bent over backwards to make sure she’s in court, set bonds to allow her to see family members, and I wanted her to be here today because I wanted to know that she’s back in the state of Wisconsin. I made it very clear she should be returning and that she be in person.”

Retzlaff continues to face a myriad of charges dating back almost two years. In May 2021, she was charged with fleeing and eluding officers and two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, as well as a misdemeanor count of resisting or obstructing an officer. She also faces misdemeanor charges through Menominee County for resisting and failing to stop. Bail jumping and disorderly conduct charges were added in April 2022 after she missed two court appearances in late 2021, and deputies arrested her in Wittenberg.

The Jan. 12 court appearance was supposed to be a pre-trial hearing for those charges, as well as an initial hearing on new bail jumping charges filed in December 2022.

According to the criminal complaint, Retzlaff allegedly received a ride from a couple in Reedsburg to a Shell Station in New Buffalo, Michigan. The complaint states that Retzlaff told the couple that she was meeting up with a man named Brian. The complaint also states that Retzlaff had mentioned Holland, Michigan. The Shawano County Sheriff’s Department was notified after the woman who had dropped Retzlaff off at the Shell gas station allegedly had an uneasy feeling about Retzlaff, looked her up online and called the sheriff’s department.

Retzlaff’s bond condition stated that she was not to leave the state without prior permission.

New bench warrants were approved for Retzlaff’s arrest at the request of Shawano-Menominee County District Attorney Greg Parker, and three of them allow for her to be apprehended nationwide. On the new bail jumping charges, Moran approved a $5,000 cash bail. He also approved $1,500 cash on the bail jumping and disorderly conduct charges from 2022 and $7,000 cash for the original Shawano County case in 2021.

Moran also ordered a $500 cash bail on the Menominee County misdemeanor charges but said that it would only be in-state. That brings the total bail Retzlaff would need to post, once re-arrested, to $14,000, just under the $15,000 she posted the last time she got out of jail.

Parker reiterated that Retzlaff has been a no-show on three occasions since the initial charges were filed.

“The court is aware of the alleged facts in the latest case that she left the state,” he said.

Defense attorney Michael Hughes requested that the bond be reduced to $1,500 cash for all cases due to Retzlaff’s current financial situation. Retzlaff had to sell her truck in order to post the latest bond, and in that time, she lost her campground to foreclosure.

“I think that’s reasonable given the money she’s posted so far,” Hughes said.

Parker argued against it and also recommended that the $15,000 bond currently in place be forfeited. Moran was hesitant to do that, however, as the money was court-ordered to be used to pay for Hughes’ services.

“My inclination is that I want her to have counsel,” Moran said. “I want to maintain that counsel, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Retzlaff did not have counsel until August 2022 and had initially tried to represent herself in court, and she claimed she had tried exhaustively to find an attorney both in and out of jail without success. Moran ordered Hughes to be Retzlaff’s counsel after she posted the latest bail.

Before the latest bail jumping charges could be filed, Retzlaff convinced Moran to grant her request Dec. 9 to leave Wisconsin with her children and was expected to return to the state Jan. 3.

Hughes told Moran he had no information about why Retzlaff was not in court, but later in the hearing, Moran noted he was notified that Retzlaff was trying to log onto the Zoom network for an appearance.

Shawano County Clerk of Courts Ethan Schmidt said Retzlaff called his office at the start of the hearing to try and get the information to appear via Zoom, but since he knew Moran had ordered her to be in court in person, he would not provide the information.

Moran repeated that the only option Retzlaff had was to be in court in person.

“I made it clear that she needed to be here in person, and I didn’t give her an option to appear by Zoom,” Moran said.

Previously, Retzlaff claimed she didn’t feel comfortable appearing in the Shawano County Courthouse in person due to COVID-19. That was out of sync with her previous publicly reported beliefs that COVID-19 was not a major threat and her vow to kick out anyone from her business who wore a mask.