A former Ripon man pleaded guilty Monday morning to charges of telephone harassment, terrorist threat and disorderly conduct related to threats he made in July 2018 against several city of Ripon officials.

   However, he has not yet been found guilty.

   Judge Dale English upheld the recommendation of the plea agreement to defer judgement of David Zeatlow, 75, of Fond du Lac for two years.

   The judge cited several reasons: Zeatlow’s age, pristine military service, clean criminal record prior to this case and cooperation with the city of Ripon.

   Zeatlow appeared in the Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Monday morning for his competency hearing, following his competency evaluation, during which Zeatlow was found to be capable of understanding the court proceedings and move forward with his case.

   After determining Zeatlow was competent, English inquired about the status of the case and any agreements.

   Zeatlow’s attorney, William Mayer, explained he and the prosecuting attorneys have met several times and have agreed “that Mr. Zeatlow will be offered a deferred judgement agreement, which the court has now received. And in that extent, it contemplates Mr. Zeatlow entering pleas of ‘guilty’ to all three counts in the information and that judgement would be deferred for two years.”

   Zeatlow also would be subject to a list of conditions, with revisions to two of the conditions relating to ability to maintain employment and complete community service hours.

“He is 75 years old. He has some physical and mental deficits as are noted in that competency evaluation report, and so he cannot overcome those,” Mayer said.

   Following a slew of questions that inquired if Zeatlow was of sound mind, able to understand the court proceedings and if he had any questions, English then read Zeatlow the charges he faced: terrorist threats-interruption of operations (Class I felony), unlawful phone use-threatens harm (Class B misdemeanor) and disorderly conduct (Class B misdemeanor).

   English explained the charge stemmed from allegations that Zeatlow threatened to shoot the Ripon officials in July 2018 while he was on the phone with the director of constituent services for then-Gov. Scott Walker.

   Zeatlow was trying to convince the governor to step in and stop his childhood home from being torn down on Pearl Street in Ripon. Walker refused Zeatlow’s request on the grounds that it was a local matter; the home ultimately was demolished.

Read the full story in the Jan. 9, 2020 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.