Janesville woman accused of making 39 false 911 calls

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Nico Savidge and Shelly Birkelo
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

JANESVILLE—Police arrested a Janesville woman Tuesday night after she made nearly 40 false 911 calls over two days, according to court documents.

Prosecutors have charged Anna M. Farmer, 44, of 1210 Anthony Ave., No. 8, with misdemeanor counts of false emergency phone use and obstructing an officer.

The calls were made from a deactivated cell phone between 3 p.m. Monday and 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to a criminal complaint, and twice made reference to someone needing help.

Officers searched the area around Farmer's apartment building and talked with residents, but found nothing wrong, authorities said.

Deactivated cell phones still can be used to make 911 calls, Rock County 911 center Director Kathy Sukus said, but dispatchers can't call them back.

Still, authorities can also use a newer phone's GPS system to track its location, she said.

Police narrowed the search of the 911 calls to a general area, continued to investigate and found the phone at Farmer's apartment, Janesville police Sgt. Dean Sukus said.

Farmer admitted making the calls even though there was no emergency, telling police, “her children pressured her … and (she) did it for fun,” according to the complaint.

Farmer pleaded not guilty to the charges at a court appearance Monday afternoon from the Rock County Jail.

Court Commissioner Charles Holznecht set a $500 signature bond for Farmer, and made a point to remind Farmer that making more false 911 calls would constitute bail jumping.

He stopped short of ordering that Farmer not contact 911 entirely as a provision of her bond, saying there is a chance she could need to report a real emergency.

The assistant public defender representing Farmer in court Wednesday said Farmer works at KANDU Industries, a sheltered workshop for adults with disabilities.

Bogus calls to 911 are particularly problematic for police, Sgt. Chad Pearson said, because they are treated as emergencies and automatically get a high priority for officers.

That takes time for officers to respond, contact residents and determine there's no emergency, he said, keeping them from other calls.

“The calls that are also lined up will then get bumped down in their priority listing,” Pearson said. “It becomes a drain on our resources.”

Meanwhile, police are investigating a similar string of more than 100 false 911 calls by another person, Dean Sukus said.

“Officers are obligated to check all of them because of the possibility there is an actual emergency.” Sukus said. “It is continuing to be a nuisance for us.”

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