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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Armored truck driver accused of stealing $182,350 from ATMs

Credit Forum News Service


Sheriff’s deputy accused of sex acts with children

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. -- A Mille Lacs County sheriff’s deputy faces felony charges for allegedly having sexual contact with several children.

Deputy Aaron Joseph Heuer, 29, of Isle, was charged Tuesday in Otter Tail County District Court with four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The BCA’s preliminary investigation identified incidents at two locations in June. According to the criminal complaint, the first incidents took place when Heuer was volunteering as a fishing guide at Lutheran Island Camp in Henning in Otter Tail County. Heuer is accused of inappropriately touching the four male victims, ages 8 to 10, and instructing them to have sexual contact with him. Additional incidents are alleged to have taken place with two of the victims on a separate fishing trip in Aitkin County that was unrelated to the camp. Investigators said they believe Heuer knew all of the victims before the incidents.

Heuer has been placed on administrative leave from the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office and was being held in the Otter Tail County Jail. Heuer has been with the Mille Lacs County Sheriff’s Office for six years.


Product to fight zebra mussels to get another test

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. -- Another trial of a biological weapon against an invasive species threatening Minnesota’s lakes is planned near Alexandria this summer.

In 2012, a trial of Zequanox was conducted on Lake Carlos in Douglas County. The 2013 study planned for Little Lake Darling will determine how effective Zequanox can be at saving native clam species from zebra mussels.

Zequanox is a bacteria that kills mussels but is regarded a safe for fish and other species.

Last year’s trial removed mussels and lake water and treated the water separately from the rest of the lake.

This year’s trial involves quarantining off 5-foot-square sections in Lake Darling where zebra mussels are prevalent. Plastic sheeting will be inserted into the lake in depths of up to 5 feet.

Jim Luoma of the U.S. Geological Survey called last year’s study a success. He said the test on Lake Darling is contingent on weather, but could begin as early as the end of July.


MPCA taking comments on feedlot regulations

ST. PAUL --  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is taking comments on proposed amendments to state regulations on animal feedlots.

The proposed amendments include eliminating the need to hold a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit except as required by federal law, incorporating new statutory requirements such as new pasture definitions and 10-year terms for State Disposal System permits, clarifying administrative requirements for permits and removing obsolete language.

To review the proposed rule amendments and find out how to comment, visit

The public comment period ends Aug. 26.


Armored truck driver accused of stealing $182,350 from ATMs

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Fergus Falls man faces a federal indictment charging him with stealing money from automated teller machines in numerous locations in west-central Minnesota and Wahpeton, N.D., over a period of seven years.

Christopher James Diestler, 31, was charged July 16 with one count of bank larceny. He was arrested July 17 and made his initial appearance Thursday in federal court.

The indictment alleges that between March 2005 and March 15, 2012, Diestler stole about $182,350 from Bremer Bank ATMs in Alexandria, Breckenridge, Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, and Morris in Minnesota, and in Wahpeton, N.D., along with a Wells Fargo ATM in Alexandria and a U.S. Bank ATM in Fergus Falls.

The thefts were committed while Diestler was carrying out his duties as an armored truck driver, investigators said.

If convicted, Diestler faces a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

This case is the result of an investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office, the Fergus Falls Police Department and the FBI.


Ship forced to cancel from Duluth festival

DULUTH -- After being pummeled by bad weather, one of the tall ships scheduled for Duluth’s tall ship festival this week has canceled its appearance.

The schooner Halie & Matthew recently survived wind, waves, a lightning strike and an on-board fire on the Great Lakes. While no one was injured, necessary repairs won’t be completed in time to finish the voyage to Duluth.

“It is with profound regret that the tall ship Halie & Matthew cannot fulfill its obligation to appear at Tall Ships Duluth 2013,” Capt. Bruce Randall said in a news release.

The 118-foot-long, two-masted gaff-rigged schooner had sold more than 1,000 tickets for two-hour sails. About 70 percent of those tickets can be redirected to other tall ships in the fleet or a refund can be requested.

Tall Ships Duluth 2013 starts Thursday.


Name of victim in fatal ATV accident released

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- The identity of a Grand Rapids woman who died in a four-wheeler accident Monday morning was released by police Tuesday.

Heather Michelle Garneau, 36, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a news release from Beltrami County Emergency Management Director Beryl Wernberg.

The accident occurred just before 10 a.m. on County Road 39 just north of Birchmont Beach Road Northeast, about 20 miles east of Bemidji.

A motorist who witnessed the crash called police. Life-saving efforts by first responders were unsuccessful, Wernberg said.


North Dakota

BLM issues decision on Bear Den Pipeline

DICKINSON, N.D. – The Bureau of Land Management has released a finding that there would be no significant environmental impact from the proposed Bear Den Pipeline project in western North Dakota.

The agency conducted an environmental assessment of the project, which would gather crude oil from wells in McKenzie and Dunn counties south of Lake Sakakawea and deposit the oil at a central storage and transfer facility south of Watford City. The pipeline will have a capacity of up to 14,000 barrels of oil per day.

The pipeline also will transport up to 3,500 barrels per day of water produced from numerous wells to a disposal well regulated by the state.

To read the finding and find information about filing an appeal, visit


Airman confronted base security before he died

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- The airman killed in a shooting Sunday night at Grand Forks Air Force Base was Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hullman, a base spokesman said Tuesday.

Timothy Flack of the base’s public affairs office said because the investigation is incomplete, he can’t say much else about the shooting, except that there is no threat to the public.

According to information broadcast over Grand Forks police radios Sunday night -- and confirmed Tuesday by Grand Forks County Sheriff Bob Rost and Becky Ault, director of the 911 dispatch center -- deputies were told that Hullman was confronting Air Force security on a street on the base, brandishing a handgun.

Flack said late Tuesday that he could not comment other than confirming Hullman's name and rank.

Ault said deputies were not dispatched officially to the scene, but simply briefed over the radio system and telephone on the general outline of the situation. Sheriff’s deputies who responded Sunday were told at the base entrance that the situation involved only active-duty Air Force personnel, and therefore the sheriff’s department had no jurisdiction, Rost said.

According to Hullman’s Facebook page, he was a public health inspector on base. He had been stationed at Grand Forks since 2009 and was 36.

His family includes a younger brother who also serves in the Air Force.


Red panda born at Fargo zoo

FARGO – A newborn red panda cub is now cuddling up and calling Fargo home.

Mattie was born June 14 at the Red River Zoo, according to a zoo news release.

The zoo partnered with MATBUS in the naming of the cub, and Mattie will serve as an ambassador to the Red River Zoo and as a mascot for the metro-wide bus system.

Officials hope to use Mattie to encourage young people to ride the bus, and the summer youth bus passes will feature the newborn panda cub, the release stated.

Mattie is currently staying indoors with his mother and will venture out into the outdoor exhibit in a few weeks, the release said.

His parents, father Yukiko and mother Shantou, are 8 years old and were imported by the Red River Zoo in 2007 from Japan. The Red River Zoo is a leading breeder of red pandas and has bred one-fourth of the captive species in North American zoos, according to the release.

The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

(FF) Photo

Man dies when ATV hits vehicle

KILLDEER, N.D. -- A 47-year-old Killdeer man is dead after the all-terrain vehicle he was driving struck the rear of a parked vehicle about 4:20 a.m. Sunday, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Lyn Peters was driving through Killdeer when he when went out of his lane and struck the vehicle and was thrown from the ATV.

The Killdeer Ambulance Service responded to the accident and Peters was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center in Dickinson, where he was pronounced dead.



Woman texts for help as alleged abductor heads west on I-94

ELK MOUND, Wis. -- A 19-year-old Whitehall woman allegedly held against her will by a man she met online was found unharmed Tuesday afternoon near Elk Mound, and a suspect was taken into custody.

Sgt. William Berger said that at 12:50 p.m. Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Patrol’s Eau Claire communications center received information that a woman was being held in a black Chevrolet Equinox traveling west on Interstate 94 near Eau Claire.

The woman had limited communications and was texting for help, the patrol said. Troopers were stationed along I-94 between Eau Claire and Hudson in an effort to locate the vehicle.

The woman convinced the suspect that she needed to use the restroom at the next exit and communicated that she was in a restroom at the Holiday Gas Station near an Elk Mound exit.

Responding officers located the vehicle at the station near Exit 59. The woman was found unharmed inside, the patrol said, and a 32-year-old man from Edina, Minn., was arrested near the vehicle.

The patrol said the man and woman met online and communicated via the Internet.

The suspect was turned over the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department, which is investigating.


South Dakota

Man surrenders in vehicular homicide case

LAKE ANDES, S.D. -- A Lake Andes man has been arrested on two counts of vehicular homicide.

Ronald Fischer Jr., 28, surrendered voluntarily Tuesday to the Charles Mix County sheriff. A warrant had been issued for his arrest for a fatal crash July 8 in Pickstown.

The crash killed Dr. Robert Klumb, 46, of Pierre, and Maegen Spindler, 25, of Cazenovia, N.Y. Klumb was the lead research biologist in the Pierre office for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Cazenovia was working as a fisheries technician assistant for Klumb during the summer.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol said Fischer had a blood-alcohol content more than twice the legal limit when the vehicle he was driving struck and killed Klumb and Spindler.

Fischer's vehicle allegedly failed to stop at the stop sign at a highway intersection and then traveled into a parking lot, where it hit Klumb and Spindler.

Charles Mix County Sheriff Randy Thaler arrested Fischer on Tuesday.

Thaler said he put the word out that he was looking for Fischer, citing an arrest warrant. At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Fischer surrendered to Thaler at the Charles Mix County Sheriff's Office in Lake Andes.

Fischer was being held on $200,000 cash bond.


National Guard furloughs affect Mitchell, Chamberlain

MITCHELL, S.D. -- Furloughs starting next month will affect 55 South Dakota National Guard employees in Mitchell and Chamberlain.

According to Terry Ommen, a Guard spokesman, 47 of the Guard's employees in Mitchell and eight in Chamberlain will be forced to take unpaid days off beginning next month as a result of federal budget cuts.

The furloughs will require certain Guard employees to take 11 unpaid days off from Aug. 2 to Sept. 30. Employees affected by the furlough will lose nearly $4,200 in pay.

The employees affected in the Mitchell area are mostly technicians working in the Guard's maintenance shops, Ommen said.

The furloughs are the result of government sequestration meant to reduce the federal budget deficit, Ommen said. The federal government intends to cut $1.1 trillion from the budget over the next 10 years.

Ommen said 540 full-time employees out of the Guard's 958 employees statewide will be affected by the furloughs.


Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
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