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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Woman sentenced for punishing girl

From the Forum Communications News Bureau


Man convicted in fatal assault in trouble again

PARK RAPIDS, Minn. -- A Park Rapids man involved in an alcohol-related fight in 2010 that took the life of his friend is back behind bars.

Monday prosecutors asked that Luis Candelaria, 50, be sentenced on one of the charges left hanging over his head in the death of Richard Allen Hoskins, 41.

Candelaria initially received an 18-month sentence in Hoskins' death and was to enter a long-term alcohol treatment facility. His sentence included a 15-year probation period in which he was to refrain from alcohol and remain law abiding.

According to Hubbard County Attorney Don Dearstyne, Candelaria was arrested for drunken driving Nov. 24 in Fargo.

The Department of Corrections subsequently revoked his probation and Dearstyne asked Judge Paul Rasmussen to send Candelaria back to jail for the assault conviction.

Candelaria's public defender, Jennifer Nelson, told the court Monday the her client plans to plead guilty to the drunken driving charge and acknowledge he violated his probation.

Rasmussen set Candelaria's next appearance for Jan. 7 and refused a request that he be furloughed until then.


Dialysis unit for reservation

WHITE EARTH, Minn. -- People needing kidney dialysis on the White Earth Indian Reservation will soon have help in their own backyard.

A new dialysis unit is set to be built as part of an addition planned for the health building just outside of the town of White Earth.

In the past, patients there have had to travel to Detroit Lakes, Bemidji or Fargo to receive dialysis.

"And that's such a big commitment because each treatment takes between six to eight hours and sometimes has to be done every other day," said Pat Butler, who is health director for the reservation.

Construction on the dialysis center, which is part of an 11,825 square foot addition that will include a diabetes-fitness center and a clinical area, is expected to begin in the spring with a projected completion sometime in the middle of 2014. Sanford Health is collaborating with the reservation.

Statistics from White Earth show 30 percent of the reservation's population currently has diabetes, Butler said.


Vene named AMC president

BEMIDJI, Minn. - Beltrami County Commissioner Joe Vene was elected president of the Association of Minnesota Counties on Tuesday.

Vene currently is serving as AMC's first vice president. Carver County Commissioner Randy Maluchnik is currently the organization's president.

AMC is a non-partisan organization that works with the legislature on issues affecting Minnesota's 87 counties.

According to a job description on the organization's website, the AMC president is expected to represent the association at national meetings of county officials. The association's president serves a one-year term.

Vene said one of the things he wants to work on is "parity" between rural and urban counties in areas such as transportation.

"If I come from a rural county base, I want to be sure that we're paying attention to our rural issues, while we're listening to our urban partners to see what their needs are," Vene said.


Woman sentenced for punishing girl

WOODBURY, Minn. -- The Woodbury woman convicted of doling out a bizarre punishment to her boyfriend's daughter must spend 60 days in jail, a Washington County judge decided.

Ahavel Scherz, 27, was sentenced Nov. 7 to 365 days in jail - 305 days of which were stayed provided Scherz follows her probation for two years. A Washington County jury convicted her in August of one count of malicious punishment of a child, a gross misdemeanor, and one misdemeanor count of domestic assault.

Prosecutors alleged Scherz made the 13-year-old girl kneel on a kitchen floor for a sustained period of time April 1 while holding a chair above her head. When the girl couldn't keep the chair aloft, Scherz struck her with a wooden spoon, the charges alleged.

The 13-year-old girl was left with bruises on her arms and legs.

The next day, Scherz wrote the girl's name on a T-shirt that also included the phrase "I am a thief." The girl was forced to wear the shirt to school. School officials reported the incident to police.


Judge issues warrant for former utility official

DULUTH -- A Minnesota district court judge on Tuesday issued an arrest warrant for a former Minnesota Power official accused of stealing from the company, but who, for 22 months, has repeatedly failed to appear in court to face the charges against her.

Susan Kay Thompson, 54, is charged with the theft of more than $100,000 of corporate property. The defendant worked as director of customer service for Minnesota Power for more than 20 years until resigning on Jan. 25, 2010.

St. Louis County prosecutor Nathaniel Stumme said Thompson has an "extraordinary history of failures to appear."

That history dates back to Thompson's failure to appear for her scheduled arraignment on the charges on Feb. 3, 2011.

A plea hearing was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday morning. Judge Mark Munger, prosecutor Stumme and defense attorney Kevin Cornwell were there, but not Thompson.

Cornwell told the court Tuesday that his client's failures to appear are "largely related to health issues."

The judge said there were suspicions enough for him to issue a warrant to bring her before the court.


Shoplifting stop leads to drug charges

WOODBURY, Minn. -- A shoplifting stop turned into a felony case for two St. Paul Park people arrested Monday in Woodbury.

Woodbury police were called Nov. 24 to a Walmart for a shoplifting report.

When police went to search the woman, identified in a criminal complaint as 27-year-old Shelby Cook, they found a syringe tucked into her sock.

The syringe later tested positive for the presence of heroin, according to the complaint.

The man, 42-year-old Kevin McMillen, allowed police to search his vehicle. Inside the vehicle police found a vial containing a residue that field-tested positive for heroin, and other drug paraphernalia.

The suspects, who share the same address, were both charged with one count of fifth-degree drug possession, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.


North Dakota

Cramer put on science, resources committees

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep.-elect Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., has been appointed to the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, he announced Tuesday.

In a written statement, he said he was pleased with appointments to the committees, which both feature energy sub-committees.

"I think the appointments appropriately recognize the important role North Dakota plays in energy development, aerospace research and environmental protection along with our rich Native American history," he wrote.

Cramer, who was serving on the state's Public Service Commission, won the election to serve as North Dakota's lone member of the U.S. House last month against Democratic candidate Pam Gulleson.

The House seat was open after Republican Rep. Rick Berg opted to instead run for the U.S. Senate, a race he lost to Democratic contender Heidi Heitkamp.

He'll be sworn in Jan. 3.


Cavalier man sentenced on child porn charges

FARGO -- A Cavalier, N.D., man was sentenced Monday to more than six years in federal prison on child pornography charges.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson sentenced Cody John O'Hara, 25, to 6½ years in prison followed by five years of probation.

According to U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon, O'Hara pleaded guilty in September to two counts of possessing material involving the sexual exploitation of minors and one count of receiving such materials. In April, a search of his home found more than 5,000 images and 16 videos depicting children in sexually-explicit situations stored in computer files.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl prosecuted O'Hara; a forensics expert with the state Bureau of Criminal Investigations examined the electronic media used by O'Hara to store the material. Grand Forks police also assisted in the investigation.


Pizza delivery leads to arrest of two men

WEST FARGO, N.D. - Police say two Fargo men were arrested at a West Fargo motel after they ordered a pizza with a credit card from a purse reported stolen earlier in the evening.

A police officer responded at 7:37 p.m. Monday to Petro Serve USA for a report of a stolen purse. The victim later reported that one of her credit cards showed a recent purchase from Pizza Patrol in West Fargo, according to a news release from police.

The pizza was delivered to a room at the Sunset Motel. Police obtained a search warrant for the room and recovered stolen items that belonged to the victim, as well as drug paraphernalia, the release stated.

Steven Joseph Monson, 24, and Nicholas Vincent Amicucci, 21, were arrested on suspicion of possession of stolen property and drug paraphernalia and unauthorized use of personal identification. Both were taken to the Cass County Jail.