Family: Former sheriff’s deputy’s kid gets break in heroin sentence

A Waunakee family is questioning the criminal sentence given to the man who sold the heroin that killed their son because of the relationship the Dane County judge had with the accused’s father.

Twenty-year-old Quinnten Endl pleaded guilty in July to selling the heroin that killed 21-year-old Colin Campbell on Sept. 18, 2013. He was sentenced in September to eight years of probation and no jail time. Prosecutors had asked for two years of jail time.

Endl’s father, Todd, served as a bailiff in the Dane County Circuit Courtroom of Judge David Flanagan and other judges for six years

Flanagan brought up the connection at the beginning of the plea hearing and prosecutors did not object.

Campbell’s father, Gary, now says the lack of jail time for a heroin sale that led to the death of his son is questionable.

“If Quinnten wasn’t a sheriff’s son, justice would have been a lot swifter and a lot harsher,” said Gary Campbell, noting that it took nearly a year and a half to charge Endl for the drug crime and that the charges came just a few months after he’d gotten off probation for earlier disorderly conduct convictions.

“I don’t want to see him go to prison for the rest of his life,” he said. “I don’t want to see his life ruined, but there needs to be some message sent to society that this isn’t acceptable.”

Todd Endl said his son has become a “hero to (him)” because he’s now been clean for two years, has a great job, and is working to help other addicts beat drugs. He understands the concern the Campbell family has, but said there was no favoritism played in his son’s case.

“I didn’t ever directly work for Judge Flanagan on an everyday basis,” Endl said. “I never had any contact with Judge Flanagan before the sentencing.”

Endl said Quinnten twice tried to commit suicide by overdosing after Colin Campbell died, but he was unsuccessful.

“It just didn’t work,” Todd Endl said. “I tried to explain to him, ‘Somebody’s trying to tell you something. Someone is telling you something.

It’s not your time.’ Quinnten has to deal with this every day of his life. A good friend of his overdosed and he was directly involved.”

News 8’s sister station WISC-TV spoke with Flanagan on the phone, and he declined to comment on the sentence except to say his remarks at Endl’s sentencing should serve as his statement. During the sentencing, Flanagan gave Endl a “substantially more severe” probationary period than what was recommended, but acknowledged the dozens of letters he’d received on Endl’s behalf, chronicling the changes he’d undergone in the two years since the crime.

“I don’t believe that in 15 years I have before seen such determined and productive effort to turn a young life around. I have to acknowledge the promise that this effort suggests,” Flanagan said at the sentencing hearing on Sept. 2.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, which took the case to avoid a conflict of interest within the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, said it did not appear that there was a “legitimate reason to object to Judge Flanagan hearing the case,” which is why it did not ask for a change of venue.

“Our thoughts are with the family of Mr. Campbell and all of the families who experience the tragic and senseless deaths of their loved ones caused by heroin,” wrote Dana Brueck, communications officer for Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. “It is precisely due to the seriousness of these crimes and the need to protect the public from this type of criminal conduct that the state recommended the defendant spend the first two years of his sentence in prison; however, we also respect that judges have the authority and discretion to determine a defendant’s sentence.”

The prosecutor’s sentencing memo acknowledged that sentences for first-time drug sale convictions usually lead to probation, but the fact that someone died from this sale should lead to a stronger sentence, including jail time.

Gary Campbell knows that every 44 hours in Wisconsin someone dies from heroin. Rich, poor, old, young, urban, rural, he said it plays no favorites, but he now believes the justice system does.

“There’s no point in wishing ill to (Quinnten), but before he can go on and live a long and healthy life, he has a debt to pay,” Campbell said. “The message they sent is you can get away with this. That it’s ok. That it’s forgivable and it’s not.”