Shawano County Board member charged with strangling farm worker

Peter Schmidt. Photo: Shawano County website
Peter Schmidt. Photo: Shawano County website(WBAY)
Published: Dec. 31, 2019 at 10:14 AM CST
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A Shawano County Board member has been charged with strangling a staffer at his farm.

Peter A. Schmidt, Bonduel, is charged with Disorderly Conduct (misdemeanor) and Strangulation and Suffocation (Felony).

On Nov. 22, a Shawano County Deputy was called to an apartment in Wittenberg. Through an interpreter, a man explained that "the farmer boss had come into the house, insulted the man, and choked him and left him out in the cold," reads an affidavit.

The victim and another man involved in the incident had been employees of Schmidt's Ponderosa and living in an employee residence "as part of their payment for work."

They said they overslept on Nov. 22 and were not ready to work their shift. They say Schmidt entered their room and yelled at them and asked if they'd be ready for work. They said Peter yelled in Spanish so they could understand.

Schmidt went outside for about 15 minutes and returned and the men were not ready for work. "Peter became more angry," reads the affidavit.

The statement says Schmidt held down one of the men on the bed and pressed "downward around the base of his neck." The man said he was having trouble breathing and he was losing consciousness. He said he didn't fight back "because he was afraid of him [Schmidt] and that he may do something worse if he fought back."

The other man recorded the incident on his phone. The deputy says the video shows Schmidt holding down the victim by the throat "to where the bed sinks." Schmidt is yelling at the man in Spanish about "respecting the boss."

The video also shows Schmidt packing their belongings and throwing bags outside and telling them to leave.

On Nov. 23, the deputy met with Schmidt at his farm on Old Dump Road in Bonduel. Schmidt told the deputy that the farm has protocol for employees to work 12-hour shifts and said they would be fired and kicked out if they did not work.

Schmidt said he held the victim in place by his neck but "didn't choke him out."

Schmidt was placed under arrest. Charges were filed on Nov. 25.

A $500 cash bond was set for Schmidt. His preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 16.

According to the Shawano County Board website, Schmidt represents District 14, which covers Town of Hartland, part of the Town of Angelica, and part of the Town of Washington.