Janesville62.8°

Bond set in murder-for-hire case

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Mike DuPre'
September 13, 2008
— Janesville City Councilman Yuri Rashkin said he was satisfied with bond conditions imposed Friday on a man charged with trying to hire a hit man to kill him and his girlfriend.

“I believe it accomplishes the goal: to keep everyone safe,” Rashkin said after Rock County Court Commissioner Stephen Meyer imposed a $30,000 cash bond on Joseph R. Chrislaw Sr.


Chrislaw also must surrender his passport. He remains in custody at the Rock County Jail.


Meyer scheduled a preliminary hearing for Monday, Sept. 22.


Chrislaw, 46, of 733 Kellogg Ave., No. 3, is charged with two counts of solicitation of first-degree intentional homicide, one for each intended victim of the alleged plot.


“It might as well be a signature bond,” Chrislaw told his attorney during the hearing. “I’m not going anyplace. It’s stupid.”


Chrislaw also is barred from contact with Rashkin; Rashkin’s girlfriend, Inna M. Cheremisina, and Ken Petersen, the man police described as the confidential informant who tipped them to Chrislaw’s desire to have Rashkin and Cheremisina killed and who arranged a meeting between Chrislaw and an undercover police officer.


Cheremisina is Chrislaw’s estranged wife. She now lives with Rashkin.


Rashkin and his wife, Amy, have filed for divorce.


Petersen is named in the criminal complaint written by assistant district attorney Tom White.


White explained that he had to name Petersen to give the complaint credibility and reliability because Petersen was not formally working for police as a confidential informant when he alerted them to his conversation with Chrislaw.


“He simply came forward and told them,” White said.


In 1992, Petersen organized a Ku Klux Klan chapter in Janesville because, he said then, that authorities no longer wanted or appreciated his services as a paid drug informant.


“I think Mr. Chrislaw made some terrible choices,” Rashkin said after the hearing Friday. “I spoke to his family, and they expressed that they were very sorry.”


Chrislaw had not personally threatened him, Rashkin said, and Chrislaw’s relatives were shocked at the charges against him.


According to the criminal complaint filed Friday:


Chrislaw, a manager for a local pizzeria, delivered a pizza to Petersen on Monday and afterward returned to talk to Petersen about hiring a contract killer.


Chrislaw told Petersen where his estranged wife worked and that he knew when Rashkin’s daughter would be gone.


“Peterson (sic) went on to indicate … Chrislaw said he would give the Hells Angels $2,000 for killing both Rashkin and his wife and he wanted it done before the divorce became final,” according to the complaint.


Petersen wore a wire and had a police recorder on his cell phone for at least two conversations with Chrislaw.


Petersen told the cops he would back out of the communication once an officer arrived and that “he had told Chrislaw that the man arriving was a Hells Angel,” according to the complaint.


Officer Rick Mussey—assigned as an undercover officer specifically for the Chrislaw case—met Chrislaw in a local bar’s parking lot.


Chrislaw showed Mussey a stack of money during the meeting while the two were discussing payment, according to the complaint.


After talking about the intended targets, Mussey asked Chrislaw if he had an alibi, and Chrislaw said he had one for this weekend.


“Officer Mussey states he told Chrislaw that he would have to do it this weekend because he wasn’t going to be sticking around … Officer Mussey states he told Chrislaw that he would make it look like a burglary and he wouldn’t need to do anything further,” according to the complaint.


Chrislaw nodded yes to both statements, the complaint charges.



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