/ Articles / Buza contests $3.5 million restitution in clinic threat, imprisonment conviction

Buza contests $3.5 million restitution in clinic threat, imprisonment conviction

October 18, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

The 71-year-old man convicted of holding a Minocqua Marshfield Clinic staff member hostage and threatening her life is now contesting the restitution he’s been ordered to pay, according to Oneida County Circuit Court records. 

Joseph Buza, 71, Eagle River, was sent to prison this summer after a plea agreement before Judge Michael Bloom which settled the case. Buza plead no contest to felonies 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. 

The charges arose after he and his former wife, Jillian Buza, 39, now deceased, armed themselves with a loaded gun, ammunition, duct tape, hatchet and meat tenderizer so they could trap and threatening a nurse practitioner over a pain management technique being implemented for Jillian that involved fewer opioids, records state. 

Staff at the clinic forced the door open — which had been forced shut with door stoppers and duct tape — and held off the Buzas until police arrived, reports indicate.

Buza, represented by public defender attorney Steven Richards, told police the couple’s intent had been to get the medical provider to “understand their pain” and then Buza was going to shoot Jillian before himself, according to the criminal complaint. 

On the first charge, Buza was issued a sentence of two years prison in confinement and three years extended supervision. On the second count, he was sentenced to 2.5 years prison confinement and five years extended supervision, consecutive to the first charge. He also was ordered to pay restitution. 

Restitution determined

That restitution was determined on the day of the sentencing to be figured out within 30 days and submitted to the court. Based on the summary of restitution recently filed with the Oneida County Circuit Court system, Marshfield Clinic Minocqua Center reported $3,594,407 plus a 10% surcharge for a total of $3,953,84.70 due from Buza.

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, medical appointments needed for staff, anticipated medical appointments for the rest of 2019, security staff salary for a portion of the year, hotel costs, a panic system, additional badge readers and other miscellaneous costs, the summary reads.

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

The summary notes a significant amount of patient displacement and a decrease in procedures at the Minocqua Marshfield Clinic’s pain management center. 

“Two staff members suffered emotional and mental anguish,” the summary states. Some staff transferred to other departments, resulting in replacement costs. Further, “… staff (is) on high alert, more cautious of patient’s belongings and patient’s attitude on arrival which may require another staff member to assist with appointment.”

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 adds. 

Last week, Richards filed a defendant’s motion to contest restitution on behalf of Buza. The motion, which challenges the amount asked for by Marshfield Clinic, asks the court to determine the amount of restitution, if any, is due. A court hearing was set for Nov. 18.

The assigned judge in the restitution matter is Judge Kevin Kline of Price County. 


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