By Shereen Siewert | Wausau Pilot & Review
A second suspect charged with neglect after four children were discovered living in a filthy apartment will avoid prison time if he meets the guidelines ordered in a deferred sentencing agreement, court records show.
Matthew Weber, 39, was charged in February with two felony and two misdemeanor charges of child neglect after investigators found the living conditions for the children unacceptable. According to a criminal complaint, the apartment was littered with rotting food, dead flies, garbage and feces. A second defendant, 38-year-old Megan Johnson, was also charged in the case.
During a sentencing hearing in October, Circuit Judge Greg Strasser dismissed both felony charges and withheld a finding of guilt on the two misdemeanor charges as part of the deferred agreement. Such agreements are part of a program where the defendant pleads guilty, but the charges will be dismissed if they fulfill a probationary agreement that includes a treatment program and other conditions. In Weber’s case, his charges will be dismissed after 18 months if he complies with all the terms and conditions imposed and has no new criminal charges.
In June, Johnson reached a similar agreement, but in her case the judge deferred the judgment on a felony child neglect charge for two years. If she complies, the felony charge will be dismissed in 2025.
Johnson was also ordered to spend a year on probation for the two misdemeanor charges, undergo assessment, treatment and counseling and keep the family home habitable as part of the agreement.
An investigation began Dec. 20 after an anonymous call to the Colby-Abbotsford Police Department reporting possible child neglect. The caller told police the apartment, located in the Colby Cottages, smelled of rotting garbage, had walls smeared with feces and had “flies everywhere.” Police say the three bedroom, two bathroom apartment was nearly completely covered in garbage and was not fit for children.