Men accused of threatening downtown business owners appear in Dane County court
MADISON, Wis. – Two of the three men arrested in connection with recent extortion crimes made against downtown Madison business owners appeared in Dane County Circuit Court.
Gregg A. James Jr. and William T. Shanley both appeared virtually during hearings on Monday.
James is charged with threats to injure, party to a crime and disorderly conduct. Shanley was charged with party to a crime of threats to injure.
According to a complaint complaint, the owners of a restaurant on State Street told police a group of three men had caused disturbances in their business and threatened them multiple times last week. In one instance, the complaint said James walked in with a baseball bat and had swung it around inside the restaurant.
On another occasion, the complaint said James and Devonere Johnson, who also faces similar charges, showed up with a boom box stereo and were playing loud music. The complaint said the two refused to leave the area and began to call one of the owners a racist as well as other remarks.
The owner said James threatened to slap her and left the restaurant without ordering anything. In a separate interaction with the other owner, James said something to the effect of “where I come from, when women act like that, we beat them,” according to the complaint.
On June 23, Madison police said James, Shanley and Johnson demanded free food and drinks in return for not having the business destroyed by protesters. The complaint said the owners eventually obliged and gave the group free beer and a cheeseburger.
Johnson reportedly told the owner “you don’t want 600 people to come in and destroy your business and burn it down,” according to the criminal complaint. The owner said he feared if he did not give the group what they asked for, they would return and possibly hurt his family or damage the business.
The owners said they asked the men to leave the restaurant during the encounters.
A signature bond was set for both James and Shanley. The two are required to stay out of the State Street and Langdon Street areas and cannot possess any weapons or baseball bats.
They are not allowed to have any contact with each other or Johnson. The United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin Scott C. Blader’s office announced a new federal charge against Johnson on Friday. The federal criminal complaint charges Johnson with attempting to obtain money and property by consent induced by the threatened use of force, violence and fear.
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