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January 25, 2020

11/21/2019 7:27:00 AM
Restitution ordered in clinic imprisonment case
Defendant opposed $3.5 million figure
Abigail Bostwick
of the Lakeland Times

Joseph Buza, 71, of Eagle River, has been ordered to pay just over $3.5 million in restitution and damages in connection with his convictions for threatening and imprisoning a Minocqua medical professional.

Buza, along with his now-deceased former wife, Jillian Buza, 39, went to Marshfield Clinic prepared with a loaded gun, ammunition, duct tape, hatchet and meat tenderizer with the plan to trap a nurse practitioner to express their displeasure with Jillian's pain management plan, according to the criminal complaint. After they wedged and taped the door shut, nurse practitioner inside, staff phoned for police and forced the door open, court records indicate. They were able to hold off the Buzas until aid arrived.

Joseph Buza was issued a prison sentence this summer after a plea agreement was accepted by Judge Michael Bloom. Buza pled no contest to false imprisonment and attempted aggravated battery/intending great bodily harm, both as party to a crime. Dismissed were misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and carrying a concealed weapon. On the first charge, Buza was sentenced to two years confinement in prison and three years extended supervision. On the second, he was sentenced to 2.5 years confinement and five years extended supervision, consecutive to the first charge. He also was ordered to pay restitution.

That restitution summary from Marshfield Clinic, filed a month after the sentencing hearing, outlined the basis behind their $3,594,407 plus a 10% surcharge for a total of $3,953,84.70 request, all due from Buza. That basis included direct financial losses of operational disruption include multiple employees missing work, staff debriefing, root cause analysis, leadership meetings, travel expenses, director employee relations meetings, Telehealth training, food for the meetings, more security measures such as lockers being added to the pain department, staff medical appointments, anticipated medical appointments yet to come in 2019, security staff salary, a panic system, additional badge readers and more miscellaneous costs, the summary reads.

Other direct financial losses listed included repetitional damage, expenditures on security measures, staff and leadership time, law enforcement time in addition to loss of staff, clinic officials reported in the restitution summary.

"Two staff members suffered emotional and mental anguish," the summary states. Some staff transferred to other departments, resulting in replacement costs.

The temporary closure of the pain department had a lasting, negative impact, the summary goes on to state, and many patients had some "fear, worry, difficulties and some leaving our system," the summary further explains.

Through his public defender Steven Richards, Buza filed a motion contesting the restitution amount.

At a hearing Monday before Bloom, Buza appeared via video. Richards noted the restitution summary was "... not worthy of compensation through the restitution statue." He further added some of those listed in the document were not direct victims.

District attorney Michael Schiek argued all costs Marshfield Clinic accrued due to the incident should "... be recoverable," including the security system, security staff and expenses - all which were related to the crime Buza committed.

Bloom found the damage estimates were accurate, adjusting lost revenue by the hours that would have been worked, for final total of $3,562,687.

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