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Cash, guns theft nets 10-year sentence
MONROE - About a week away from his 40th birthday, William J. Wilke received a sentence of 10 years in state prison for burglarizing a New Glar-us home.

Wilke, Stoughton, worked in tandem with Justin Wenger, 30, Monticello, and Ryan J. Coyle, 25, New Glarus, in stealing an 800-pound gun safe containing 12 firearms and $153,000 in cash on Sept. 28, 2012.

Wilke will also face 10 years of probation after his release from prison concurrent to any other convictions he may face. Wilke has a laundry list of prior convictions and faces several more charges for a similar crime involving burglary in Green County.

According to court records:

Wilke met Coyle in prison where they discussed robbing the home of Coyle's mother's boyfriend in New Glarus. On the day of the robbery, Coyle and Wilke met at a bank and proceeded to pick up Wenger in Monticello before burglarizing the home in the 600 block of 14th Avenue. Upon arriving at the home, Wenger and Wilke entered through a basement window to the garage, then proceeded to the upstairs bedroom where the 800-pound safe was located. They pushed the safe down the stairs, slid it across the garage and loaded it into Wilke's vehicle where Coyle was waiting. The trio then drove to Stoughton to drop the safe off at Wilke's mother's house, but not before renting a concrete saw to open the safe. Then they split up the $153,000 and Wenger took most of the guns.

Among the guns were six rifles, five handguns, one shotgun and a Taser. Other items in the safe included brass knuckles, 3,000 rounds of ammo and numerous gun accessories.

Coyle later alleged that Wenger was brandishing a silver handgun during the burglary, but there was no identifying evidence that Wenger had a gun. Wenger sold most of the guns he took from the burglary on the street.

The three men spent a large amount of the money stolen prior to their arrests a few months later. Wenger bought two cars, Coyle decided to burn some of the bills that had any markings on them and Wilke reportedly spent anywhere from $20,000 to $27,000 on drugs, child support and "hush money."

In his closing statements, District Attorney Gary Luhman said Wilke had almost died from a heroin overdose in 2011 and has suffered from drug and alcohol abuse for most of his life.

"This probably should have been a wake-up call for Mr. Wilke," Luhman said.

Luhman praised Wilke for spending some of the money on paying child support for his 14-year-old and 3-year-old children, but said it did not excuse Wilke's actions.

"The key issue is the greed and sheer recklessness with which Wilke and the two co-defendants spent the money," he said.

Wilke appeared to be shaking and his face was red before he made a final statement to the court. He apologized to the victim and for the crime he committed.

"My actions will keep me from a large portion of my children's lives," Wilke said. "I am truly sorry."

In passing down his conviction, Judge Thomas Vale said Wilke has shown a pattern of behavior that suggests he will continue to commit crimes if given a light sentence.

"If you can't live peacefully in our society, you may have to live outside of society," Vale said.

Wilke has served 460 days in state prison, but it was not decided today whether this time will be credited to his current sentence. A restitution hearing was set for July 29 in order to pay back one-third of the stolen cash and property Wilke owes to the victim. Justin Wenger faces similar charges and has a sentencing hearing on June 12. Ryan Coyle also has charges in connection with the burglary and has a plea/sentencing hearing on May 23.