By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — A 33-year-old woman who led police on a high speed chase for more than 30 miles through Marathon County with two children in the car can avoid prison if she successfully completes a three-year probation term.
Billie J.M. Gassen, of Waupaca, was sentenced Thursday in Marathon County Circuit Court, where Judge Jill Falstad ordered a withheld prison sentence as part of a plea agreement. During Thursday’s hearing Gassen was convicted of fleeing an officer and bail jumping, while two counts of recklessly endangering safety were dismissed.
Police say in August 2018 Gassen was driving a Jeep listed as stolen out of Waupaca County when they tried to pull her over on an exit ramp to westbound Hwy. 29. Gassen ignored officers and sped up, reaching speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour at one point, according to the criminal complaint. Marathon County deputies joined in the chase, which continued for 31.2 miles on Hwy. 29 past Hwy 97, before an Athens Police officer used stop sticks to deflate the front tire of the vehicle. Gassen continued driving on the deflated tire until a Marathon County deputy used a pit maneuver to block her in and stop her vehicle, according to the police report.
When officers surrounded Gassen’s vehicle with their guns drawn, they realized there were two children in the back of the vehicle. Gassen allegedly locked the doors and refused to get out. One of the children unlocked a back door and tried to get out of the vehicle, but Gassen allegedly grabbed the child to keep him from getting out. An officer eventually broke a window, unlocked the doors and pulled Gassen from the vehicle before arresting her.
At the time of her arrest in August, Gassen was out on bond for a pending third-offense drunken driving charge in Waupaca County, according to court records.
The plea agreement calls for Gassen to spend three years on probation, maintain absolute sobriety, undergo AODA assessment or counseling and parenting classes, and maintain full-time employment or complete nine hours of community service per week.
If Gassen is not successful on probation she will be sent to prison for two years followed by two years of extended supervision.
The Waupaca County case is still pending, with a plea hearing set for July 16.