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Crew leader serving time for van crash wants shorter sentence

5/18/01

By Carrie Michael/Gazette Staff

The former leader of a magazine sales crew that suffered seven deaths in a van crash near Janesville is trying to have his two-year prison sentence reduced, claiming it is "unduly harsh."

Choan Lane, 32, pleaded guilty to interference with child custody, conspiracy to obstruct an officer, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and contributing to truancy.

He was sentenced to two years of prison followed with 21 months of jail in October.

Lane's attorney, Bridget Boyle of Milwaukee, filed the motion for post-conviction relief. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday with Rock County Judge Richard Werner.

Lane owned YES, the traveling magazine-sales company that employed the 14 teens and young adults involved in the crash in March 1999 on Interstate 90.

Lane had approved the plan for the unlicensed van driver, Jeremy Holmes, to switch places with the front seat passenger if they got pulled over.

Holmes tried to switch places with a passenger when he saw a squad car in the I-90 median north of Janesville on March 25.

Holmes lost control of the van at 80 mph. The van rolled, throwing the passengers from the vehicle. None were wearing seat belts.

Seven died and six were injured in the crash.

Holmes was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to 12 felonies.

Boyle filed the motion for Lane and contends in her brief, "The defendant is not asserting that he does not deserved to be punished for his crime, but under all facts and circumstances of this matter, the defendant asserts that this was an unusual and disproportionate sentence."

The brief goes on to note that Lane has no prior record. During his employment he was working and supporting his two children. His conviction was for non-violent crimes.

The brief reads, "the defendant asserts he is at very low risk to re-offend."

William Hanrahan, prosecuting the case for the state Attorney General's office, filed a reply that the request be denied.

He cites transcripts of the sentencing in which the judge assessed those factors of Lane's life prior to passing sentence.

Hanrahan also cited segments where the judge noted "the totality of the circumstances" of the case. The judge also noted the ongoing conduct of Lane's practices, lack of remorse and "his protracted involvement in criminal enterprise," Hanrahan wrote.

Werner will hear the request for resentencing Tuesday.



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