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January 26, 2020

11/21/2019 7:26:00 AM
One sentenced in St. Germain drug bust
Abigail Bostwick
of the Lakeland Times

The first of four defendants charged following a raid on a suspected drug house in St. Germain last spring has been sentenced.

Grace Barbolla, 24, Sayner, pled guilty and was found guilty of felony child neglect, and given deferred prosecution on another charge of child neglect, as well as possession of narcotic drugs as party to a crime. Dismissed were charges of possession of narcotic drugs, possession of methamphetamine, possession of THC, possession of drug paraphernalia - all as party to a crime as well as two counts of neglecting a child.

According to court records, the Vilas County Sheriff's Department was called to the home of Justin Sernovitz, 39, St. Germain, in April, where Barbolla had possibly overdosed. Responding officers found Barbolla "breathing but unconscious" and a syringe and bruising on her arms "consistent with intravenous drug users." Narcan was administered.

Inside the house was white residue, syringes and other drug-related paraphernalia along with Barbolla and Sernovitz' children. Sernovitz, who also was present, kept falling asleep while being interviewed, court reports indicate.

Child protective services was contacted and the children were removed while Sernovitz was taken to jail and Barbolla to the hospital, court reports note.

Further investigation led to a possible drug house in St. Germain as the source of their drug supply. A search warrant and three-department raid came in the days following at the house of Timothy O. Birchbauer, 40, and Rebecca Richter, 35, both of St. Germain, where more evidence of drug sales as well as firearms were uncovered, reports state.

Birchbauer and Richter face multiple felonies including possession with intent of cocaine, narcotic and illegal prescriptions in addition to child neglect. Both are awaiting future court dates. Birchbauer's $10,000 cash bond was reduced to $5,000, which he has posted. Richter's $5,000 cash bond was reduced to $500, and signed. Richter has pled not guilty.

Sernovitz is set to be sentenced in mid-January.

Barbolla will serve 12 months probation and undergo alcohol and drug treatment and any other treatment or counseling deemed appropriate, Judge Neal Nielsen ordered Monday. Barbolla must also maintain absolute sobriety and follow social services rules regarding her children. Her court costs are just under $450.

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