REGIONAL BRIEFS: Casting agent gets nine years for sexual contact with clients
Credit Forum News Service
DNR pulls famous researcher’s bear permits
ELY, Minn -- The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on Friday revoked permits for famed Ely bear researcher Lynn Rogers, ordering him to stop placing radio transmitter collars on bears and stop putting cameras in bear dens.
After years of back-and-forth arguments between Rogers and the agency over Rogers’ motives and methods, top DNR officials say they moved now because the number of complaints about bear behavior near Rogers’ research bears “has grown intolerable.”
“It’s a public safety issue,” said Chris Niskanen, DNR communications director.
Rogers said the DNR’s allegations are “unfounded” and that the DNR’s listed reasons for ending the permits are “disingenuous.”
“This is the end of my 46-year career in bear research,” Rogers said.
In the letter from DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr dated Friday, Rogers and his associate, Sue Mansfield, were informed that their annual permit, which expires Sunday, will be renewed only through July, at which point all collars and den cameras must be removed.
The letter also said Rogers and Mansfield must cease and desist from “disturbing, handling or videotaping wild bears in their dens.”
The DNR contends that Rogers’ research bears are habituated to people and human sources of food and have become a nuisance and danger to local residents and seasonal visitors. Agency officials also say his work is not helping add to the body of science about Minnesota black bears.
Casting agent gets nine years for sexual contact with clients
COTTAGE GROVE, Minn. -- A Cottage Grove man who ran a casting company was sentenced to nine years in prison for having sexual contact with two brothers for whom he had provided casting opportunities.
Matthew D. Feeney, 44, was sentenced Friday by Washington County District Court Judge Gary Schurrer and turned over to the custody of the state prison in St. Cloud.
Feeney ran Bloomington-based Walden Entertainment, a movie and TV casting company with juvenile clients. In 2007 he befriended the boys’ parents and later provided the brothers casting opportunities and acting classes, according to the criminal complaint.
The eldest brother told authorities that Feeney molested him while they were at Feeney’s home watching a movie in May 2009. The boy was 14 at the time, and he told investigators similar incidents happened six to seven times over a two-year period. During a similar time period, Feeney molested the younger brother, who was 9 when the sexual contact started, the complaint says.
Feeney pleaded guilty in March to second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a victim under the age of 13 and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct while in a position of authority.
He will be placed on lifetime conditional release after serving the prison sentence.
Court records show Feeney was convicted of criminal sexual conduct in Aitkin County in 1992. Also, in a case that is pending, Feeney is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Massachusetts.
Woman pleads guilty in synthetic drug killing
DULUTH -- Emphasizing that she never would have stabbed a Duluth woman to death if she wasn’t under the influence of synthetic drugs, a Marquette, Mich., woman pleaded guilty Friday to intentional second-degree murder.
Nicole Leone Revello, 29, entered the plea in State District Court in Duluth and agreed to a 367-month sentence, a little over 30 years, which is the maximum guideline sentence for someone with no prior criminal history.
Revello admitted that she stabbed to death Lisa Kay Davis, 46, in an apartment June 2.
Friday’s hearing had been scheduled as an omnibus hearing in which the court decides whether there is enough evidence to maintain charges and makes sure that none of the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated in the accumulation of evidence. But Revello informed her attorney, public defender Brent Olson, that she wanted to plead guilty.
Olson said in an interview that the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office used some leverage by informing him that it was prepared to present the case to a grand jury for a potential intentional first-degree murder indictment. If Revello had been convicted of that crime, she would have received a mandatory life prison sentence.
But Olson said also said “she’s very remorseful” and wanted to take responsibility for her actions.
Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 16.
Suspect identified in standoff; died of gunshot wound
ST. PAUL -- Miquell David Deppa, a father to six children according to family, was identified by police Friday as the suspect in a four-hour standoff Wednesday at a Liberty Township home.
The official identification came as a result of an autopsy performed at the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office. That autopsy revealed Miquell Deppa died of a gunshot wound. Relatives were still coming to grips with what they say was an unexpected event.
Family on scene Wednesday at the home in which Deppa, 34, barricaded himself identified him as the gunman. Police were called just before 5 p.m. on reports that Deppa was distraught, carrying a rifle and “making threats about killing himself or law enforcement,” according to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Deppa threatened to shoot law enforcement throughout the day, said Jill Oliveira of the BCA, and emerged from the home pointing his weapon at officers.
A deputy with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office, acting as a sniper with the Mississippi Headwaters Task Force SWAT team, was forced to shoot Miquell Deppa, police said, after he emerged from the home and pointed his rifle at police.
After being wounded, Deppa retreated into the house, but emerged a short time later and was transported to a Fargo hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Courthouse bag ban hits Carlton County
CARLTON, Minn. -- The Carlton County Courthouse is joining the bag ban.
Beginning Monday, all packages, bags, purses, backpacks, sacks or other containers of any kind will be prohibited from the courtroom or any other room where court or grand jury proceedings take place, the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office announced in a news release.
The exception: those “deemed necessary and appropriate by the court,” such as those needed by the attorneys, the plaintiff or defendant.
A similar policy begins Monday at the St. Louis County Courthouse in Duluth.
The news release said the policy is to be consistent with other courts and courthouses in the Sixth Judicial District.
District Chief Judge Shaun Floerke on Oct. 22 signed a “bag order” authorizing sheriff’s offices to search any containers in any courtroom, judicial hallway or corridor in the district. It also prohibited containers in courtrooms where court or grand jury proceedings take place.
O.J. Simpson’s ex-girlfriend gets jail time
MOORHEAD -- A woman who dated O.J. Simpson after he was acquitted of murdering his ex-wife was sentenced Friday to a 34-day jail sentence for a burglary and drug conviction.
“I’m comfortable with it,” Christie Prody said of the sentence after the hearing.
Prody, 38, was sentenced in Clay County District Court to serve 45 days in jail, with credit for 11 days already served, as well as 10 years of probation.
Those terms are in exchange for her guilty plea in May to felony charges of second-degree burglary and of fifth-degree possession of drugs. She was accused in April 2012 of stealing prescription pills from a Moorhead couple while working as an in-home care assistant.
Later that year, in November, she was charged in Cass County District Court with Class B felony robbery after police said she tried to steal a woman’s purse at the West Acres Mall in Fargo, which led to a fight between the two. She’ll be on supervised probation for two years after pleading guilty to the Cass County charge in March.
Explosion destroys Sanborn fireworks supply
WIMBLEDON, N.D. -- Officials with the Sanborn Fire Department are considering their options after an explosion Thursday destroyed the fireworks that were to be used for this year’s Fourth of July display.
Mike Griffin, a member of the fire department, said the fireworks in the storage building were valued at about $3,000. Griffin anticipated the department would meet Friday evening to make a decision on the holiday fireworks display.
“Maybe we have to make a trip to Minnesota for more stuff,” he said.
Troy Franklin, member of the fire department and coordinator of the demolition derby, said other events planned for the Independence Day celebration will continue.
Several hundred people travel from other communities to see Sanborn’s July Fourth events each year. The town had 192 residents in 2010, according to census data.
The fireworks magazine used by the fire department was located at the Jim Greshik farm. The magazine is a specially designed building for the storage of explosives or ammunition.
No one was injured in the explosion, and property damage was limited to the fireworks storage magazine and its contents.
“No clue how it happened,” Greshik said. “We had no idea it happened until Friday morning when we saw smoke.”
The Sanborn Fire Department is continuing its investigation.
Gas prices down heading into July Fourth holiday
DICKINSON, N.D. -- Unlike the last time a major holiday weekend came around, gas prices are falling in North Dakota.
After witnessing all-time high prices at the pump leading up to Memorial Day weekend last month, motorists are breathing a sigh of relief heading toward next week’s long Fourth of July weekend.
The state average for a gallon of regular unleaded in North Dakota was $3.73 as of Friday, down 51 cents from the all-time high of $4.24 set on May 22. Prices in eastern strongholds like Grand Forks and Fargo remain at least 10 cents to 20 cents lower than on the western side of North Dakota and higher than the national average of $3.23, according to AAA.
Dickinson still has the highest average price in the state for a gallon of unleaded gasoline, according to numbers supplied by the motorist club AAA, but prices have been falling dramatically in recent weeks. In Dickinson on Friday, some service stations were selling ethanol-blended gas for as little as $3.69 per gallon.
Eugene LaDoucer of AAA North Dakota said refinery issues in the Midwest that had been the main contributing factor to sending gas prices through the roof this spring have largely been resolved.
Woman finds man naked, covered in feces in her kitchen
FARGO – Police here say a Fargo woman awoke this week to find a naked man covered in feces in the kitchen of her apartment.
Cory Robert Coste, 20, of Fargo, was charged Wednesday in Cass County District Court with Class C felony criminal trespass and criminal mischief as a Class B misdemeanor.
According to a police report, Gabrielle Thibert told police who responded to her apartment Monday evening that she’d locked the door when she’d gone to bed about four hours previously, but it might not have latched properly.
Thibert told police she woke up to noises and found a man alleged to be Coste standing naked in her kitchen, covered in feces and trying to clean himself off using her dish towel.
Thibert told police Coste was “out of it” and did not know where he was. She told officers she grabbed her cellphone, went into the hallway and dialed 911.
Officers found Coste asleep on Thibert’s couch, wrapped in blankets, with feces all over his legs and feet. Police say that when they woke him up, Coste couldn’t recall how he got there.
Coste was arrested, and a breathalyzer test puts his blood-alcohol content at 0.161 percent, double the legal limit for driving. He appeared in court Wednesday, where his bail was set at $500. His next court appearance is set for July 24.
Red River at Fargo barely misses major flood stage
FARGO -- The Red River appeared to have crested early Friday afternoon just shy of the 30-foot, major flood threshold.
The Red River reached 29.59 feet as of 12:30 p.m., and then dipped to 29.58 feet, according to figures from the National Weather Service.
Earlier, predictions called for the river to crest slightly above the 30-foot mark.
The Red is predicted to dip below moderate flood stage early Monday, and to subside gradually to 19.6 feet, 1.6 feet above minor flood stage, in the next week.
Report says S.D. should ready for aging trend
MITCHELL, S.D. -- If current trends continue, South Dakota will be grayer than the faces of Mount Rushmore in two decades.
A recent iGrow report from South Dakota State University's Extension service shows that nearly a quarter of South Dakotans will be over 65 by 2035. The state's population over age 85 is expected to double to 5.5 percent.
South Dakota's population over age 65 is projected to go from 14.3 percent recorded in the 2010 census to 23.2 percent, according to the report.
One of the report’s authors says South Dakota's leaders should assess the report, keeping in mind that trends can change.
“Projections of any kind are based on what's going on right now and current trends. But we know change is inevitable,” said Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension community development field specialist.
Aging baby boomers and declining fertility rates are driving South Dakota's demographics shift, according to the iGrow report.