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Simmons gets 31 years in prison for long string of crimes

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A La Crosse man described in court as a smooth-talking and manipulative predator is sentenced to 31 years in prison. 

Gregory Simmons could have received up to 227 years for crimes committed in recent years, but he took a plea agreement this year. 

Simmons pled guilty specifically to assaulting a young woman three years ago, and trying to take her to Racine to work as a prostitute.  That case made news when the victim escaped into a Kwik Trip store, hiding there in a walk-in beer cooler while store employees called police.    

Simmons was described as using women, and making one victim his “personal sex slave,” as Judge Ramona Gonzalez put it. 

The judge says Simmons has violated rules every time he has been released from jail or prison, allowing him “to continue to live your life as you have the first 34 years, which is basically to believe that you can do anything because you can talk your way out of it and you can find a way to avoid the consequences of your behavior.”

During sentencing on Wednesday, the court heard tape recordings of Simmons sweet-talking to women on phone calls. Gonzalez says Simmons has been known to tell two different women within minutes of each other that each woman was the only one he loved.

Simmons admitted to Gonzalez that he has messed up, and pleaded with her to give him a short sentence. “I’m 34 years old, my health ain’t good,” he said. “Your honor, I don’t want to die in prison. Please don’t take my life away from me.”    

Simmons had made an attempt this week to withdraw his guilty plea, but the judge said the plea agreement already helped Simmons avoid a possible sentence of more than 200 years in prison.          

The mother of one of Simmons’s victims was upset that her daughter’s case was among many dismissed as part of a plea agreement, and said Simmons was just getting a “slap on the wrist.” Defense attorney Michael Hughes characterized the prosecution’s argument for prison time as a “call for vengeance.”

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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