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The Vilas County Sheriff's Office releases names of officers responsible for letting murder suspect leave jail
EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County Jail Sgt. Kristine Lovas and Corrections Officer Anthony Mugnaini both resigned over their part in letting a murder suspect walk out of Vilas County Jail last month. Three other officers received disciplinary action. 

On the night of Feb. 9, James Lussier, 19, walked into the Vilas County Jail with three women. Time stamps on surveillance video given to Newswatch 12 by the Vilas County Sheriff's Office show less than two minutes later, Lussier ran out of the building with a woman, now identified as Mariah Thoms.

Lussier is one of five suspects facing murder charges for the death of Wayne Valliere, Jr. He was later arrested in Oshkosh on Feb. 18. All five suspects are now in police custody. 

According to a deputy report, on Feb. 13, Chief Deputy Patrick Schmidt received information that James Lussier had called the jail saying he was going to turn himself in on Feb. 9, but he was never booked. 

Vilas County Jail Administrator William Weiss investigated the incident. 

He found that CO Mugnaini jokingly told Thoms to take Lussier to Iron County Jail. Corrections Officer Michael Czlapinski joined in on the joke by saying, "Yeah take him to Iron County."

When Thoms and Lussier started to walk away, Sgt. Lovas called them back. She told Thoms "It's your choice though" if she wanted to take him to Iron County or book him in Vilas County. 

Thoms said she'd rather take him to Iron County and they walked out. 

During this conservation, Lussier never identified himself. 

Lovas, Mugnaini, and Czlapinski figured out who he was almost an hour and a half later. 

Lovas told Mugnaini, Czlapinski, and two other officers that were around but not involved to not say anything and "What happens on this shift stays on this shift."

Lovas and Mugnaini both resigned. Czlapinski lost his deputy status and got suspended. 

The two other officers that were there, but not involved, received written reprimands. 

Story By: Katie Thoresen

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