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Woodville man accused of impersonating officer on Facebook

A St. Croix County man allegedly used a drug investigator's name to create a fake Facebook account and needle a woman about drug dealing.

Investigators learned about the incident through the woman's father — a Boyceville police officer. According to a criminal complaint, the impersonator asked the woman, "Hey so do you sell drugs like your brother does too then???."

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St. Croix County prosecutors charged the man, 23-year-old Woodville resident Cole A. Buerkle with one count of felony identity theft causing harm and a misdemeanor count of impersonating an officer. Buerkle, who has other active criminal cases in western Wisconsin, makes his initial appearance in the impersonation case on Aug. 16.

According to the complaint:

A St. Croix County Sheriff's Office investigator was informed by Dunn County authorities June 14 that Buerkle had created a Facebook account using the name "Dan Westland." The account had messaged a woman on Feb. 1 to ask her about drug dealing and made reference to her brother, who has a lengthy criminal history that includes drug-related cases.

The woman's father, a Boyceville officer, had passed along the information to Westland, a Menomonie police drug investigator.

A Dunn County investigator received a warrant in February for Facebook to release information about the suspicious account. Another message sent using the fictitious account was to another Facebook user saying "It's Cole call me." A second message made reference to "Cole" using the account.

Investigators tracked the account's internet address to a Baldwin LightStream customer in Woodville — Buerkle's grandmother. Police learned he lived with her and that his phone number was the same number used to create the phony Facebook account.

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Investigators interviewed Buerkle May 21 at the St. Croix County jail. Told that the issue involved a Facebook account, Buerkle asked "if it was in reference to the account 'Dan Westland,'" the Dunn County investigator wrote in his report.

Buerkle admitted knowing Westland was a "drug cop." He later admitted to creating the account to "mess" with people.

"Cole said he was locked out of his Facebook account at the time so he had to create another account to communicate with people," the complaint states, which goes on to state that Buerkle apologized for using Westland's name.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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