To study bail jumping in Wisconsin, WJI and the Mastantuono Coffee & Thomas law firm are looking county by county at 2021 bail-jumping charges. Which counties are charging bail jumping the most? Who are some of the defendants? What happens to those cases? We'll report the statistics from individual counties and tell you the stories from randomly chosen cases.
Total number of cases with bail-jumping charges: 584
Total number of misdemeanor and felony cases: 1,006
Percent of misdemeanor and felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 58%
Total number of felony cases with bail-jumping charges: 489*
Total number of all felony cases: 833
Percent of felony cases that include bail-jumping charges: 59%
Total number of misdemeanor cases with bail-jumping charges: 95
Total number of all misdemeanor cases: 289
Percent of misdemeanor cases that include bail-jumping charges: 33%
Largest number of bail-jumping charges issued in a single case: 13
Number of felony bail-jumping charges issued: 779
Number of misdemeanor bail-jumping charges issued: 227
*Felony cases can include felony or misdemeanor bail-jumping charges or both; misdemeanor cases can include only misdemeanor bail-jumping charges. Case counts reported as of January 2022. This analysis does not include criminal traffic cases.
Kora was hit with her first criminal case in 2016 when she was 17 and charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. The cannabis charge was reduced to a forfeiture violation and she pled no contest; the paraphernalia charge was dismissed.
She's been in and out of legal trouble since, at first with smaller drug cases and traffic tickets, and then with multiple felony charges and two overdose deaths at a property Kora rented.
The quick downward spiral started with an arrest in February 2021.
Two Chippewa Falls police officers, responding to a report about a distressed woman walking a dog, found Kora and the dog. Kora appeared "very confused and was swaying back and forth while standing," according to the criminal complaint.
Kora asked for a ride and one of the officers put her in the back of a squad so she could warm up.
"Officers observed that (Kora) had been shaking and appeared to have been outside for quite some time, but she refused to say, or was too confused to know, how long she had been outside or where she was coming from," according to the complaint.
The officers arrested Kora after learning she had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant from Monroe County.
She was searched at the Chippewa County Jail, and a deputy found four opioid pills and about a tenth of a gram of a substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine. Kora was charged on March 10, 2021, with felony possession of narcotics, second or subsequent offense, and possession of methamphetamine.
She was looking at maximum penalties totaling 11 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
Chippewa County Circuit Judge James M. Isaacson set a $2,500 signature bond. Isaacson ordered her, among other things, to report to pretrial monitoring right after court.
A sheriff's sergeant and deputy went to her house on April 5.
Kora said she would deal with the warrant the next day, but the deputy spotted "suspected contraband" in Kora's bra, according to a criminal complaint. It turned out to be a baggie that contained a powder that field-tested positive for heroin.
Kora was then charged with felony bail jumping, for allegedly failing to report to pretrial monitoring. That charge carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
A $500 cash bond was set.
Felony bail jumping occurs when a person out on bond on a felony charge violates the conditions of that bond. Misdemeanor bail jumping occurs when a person out on bond on a misdemeanor charge violates the conditions of that bond.
A bail-jumping offense may not by itself be a crime. Missing a court date, failing to report to pretrial monitoring, violating a local ordinance, or having a drink could all be bail-jumping offenses if bond conditions prohibit those things.
Misdemeanor bail jumping carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
Some 11 days after Kora was charged with bail jumping, prosecutors added three more counts, all felonies – possession of narcotic drugs and two more counts of bail jumping. She had violated two more conditions of her signature bond, according to the complaint – not to commit a new crime and not to consume or possess illegal drugs.
Those three counts carried a total maximum penalty of 15½ years in prison and $30,000 in fines.
Isaacson ordered that the $500 cash bond previously set and posted apply to the new case as well.
Less than three weeks later, in May, she was charged with another felony bail-jumping count for failing to report for pretrial monitoring check-ins. She faced another maximum of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Kora now had four criminal cases pending against her in Chippewa County. Isaacson directed that the $500 cash bond already posted cover all four.
She faced a fifth case in June. This time she was charged with four counts of felony bail jumping for failing to report to pretrial monitoring. Isaacson set a $2,000 signature bond. She faced an additional 24 years in prison and $40,000 in fines.
Her total maximum exposure was now 56½ years in prison and a cool $100,000 in fines, mostly for not getting to her monitoring appointments.
Then, in October, she was charged with six felonies and two misdemeanors related to April events involving two overdose deaths. A boyfriend and girlfriend died just 10 days apart, according to the complaint. They were found at the same Town of Lafayette trailer park property that Kora rented.
When emergency medical workers responding to the second overdose arrived at Kora's trailer, according to the complaint, several people fled the scene.
During a search of the residence, deputies found drug paraphernalia and small amounts of fentanyl, Adderall, and marijuana.
A neighbor told a law enforcement investigator that "a lot" of people visited Kora's trailer to buy drugs. The neighbor "Stated that cars are in and out all the time, some with Minnesota and Iowa plates, at all hours of the day and night," the complaint said. "Cars are usually only there for 5 to 10 minutes."
A witness said Kora took the dead woman's phone from next to her body and put it in her own purse.
When Kora was questioned later about the matter, she first suggested the woman did not have a phone, then said the woman had a phone, but it could only use Facebook Messenger, then told investigators, "I thought you guys took it," according to the complaint.
A man staying with Kora told investigators the next day that he had found the woman face down in a cardboard box in the trailer. He administered Narcan, but the woman already was dead.
"We just moved her to the porch so you guys couldn't come into the house," the man said, according to the complaint.
The man called 911 but hung up when he realized someone had already done that.
"We just moved her (body) to the porch so you guys couldn't come into the house,"
He said it was five, 10, or 15 minutes from the time he found the woman until the time he called 911. Then he changed the story.
"No, no, not even 15, not even 10," he said, according to the complaint.
Kora, at the urging of the man, eventually gave the victim's phone to investigators. Messages recovered from it indicated Kora used it several times after the 911 call was placed.
They also found, on Kora's own phone, indications that she moved the first overdose victim.
Kora was charged with felony maintaining a drug-trafficking place, second or subsequent offense; possession of narcotics, second or subsequent offense; four counts of felony bail jumping; and two counts of misdemeanor obstructing an officer – one for moving the woman's body and taking her phone, and one for lying about the phone.
The new charges Kora faced carried a total maximum penalty of 40½ years in prison and $80,000 in fines.
Isaacson set a $500 cash bond.
In November, Kora was charged again with felony bail jumping for missing multiple pretrial monitoring appointments in her cases.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Kora again did not comply with pretrial monitoring requirements. In March of this year, Assistant District Attorney Scott Zehr asked that bond be forfeited, but Isaacson turned him down.
Isaacson allowed the $500 bond in the overdose case to cover the new one as well.
By that time, Kora's counsel, appointed by the State Public Defender's Office due to her poverty, and prosecutors were close to a plea agreement, according to online court records. That month, Isaacson, at the request of prosecutors, dismissed three cases that included six counts of felony bail jumping.
A plea agreement to close the remaining four cases was reached in May, 2022. Kora pleaded no contest to felony possession of narcotics, second offense or greater, in connection with the dog arrest; felony possession of narcotics in the the drugs-in-the bra case; maintaining a drug trafficking place, second offense or greater, in the overdose case; and felony bail jumping in the November case about missed pretrial appointments.
Isaacson sentenced her to three years of probation, adding nine months in jail with work-release privileges in the overdose case.
Two days later, on May 5, a Chippewa County Sheriff's Department sergeant asked that Kora be furloughed "until the jail medical team finds her fit to be in jail or (for) a maximum of 30 days," according to a criminal complaint.
Circuit Judge Benjamin Lane approved the request, writing "30 day furlough granted with return to jail upon patient discharge after determination by jail medical staff that defendant has received necessary medications and has returned to a therapeutic level of medication necessary for defendant to safely remain in the jail."
The furlough ended in June, but Kora did not return to jail. A warrant was issued for her arrest, according to online court records. She is charged with felony failure to report to jail.
That charge, like felony bail jumping, carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The case is pending.
Our methodology: WJI and Mastantuono Coffee & Thomas determined the number of felony and misdemeanor bail-jumping cases and charges in each county through court data. The data was reported as of Jan. 31. The total number of felony and misdemeanor cases filed in a county was obtained through the state's online court system. Cases selected for the "case file" section are chosen randomly through a random number-generator web site. The intent of the project is to show a variety of bail-jumping cases.
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin