The Red Lake County Attorney’s Office has filed a criminal complaint against former Mayor and City Administrator, Allen Ducharme, following an investigation by the Red Lake County Sheriff’s Department ..
According to Sheriff Mitch Bernstein, the investigation began in September of last year, when his office received a complaint from an attorney with the League of Minnesota Cities, a state alliance of more than 8 hundred communities including the City of Red Lake Falls. Among other things, the League provides legal expertise which had been requested by the city. Sheriff Bernstien says the investigation is on-going, but uncovered evidence of alleged theft and misconduct, with Red Lake County Attorney, Dan Geller, filing a complaint in late April.
The 49 year old Ducharme – who now lives in Crookston – has yet to make his first court appearance but has been accused of Felony Theft and Gross Misdemeanor Misconduct of a Public Officer. Ducharme has been summoned to appear June 10th in Red Lake County District Court in Red Lake Falls and has not yet had a chance to enter a plea in the case.
According to the complaint filed with the Court Administrator’s Office, initial allegations concern Ducharme’s activities as a former organizer of the Lafayette High School After Prom Parties and purchases of $2,394 dollars made by Ducharme in 2010, for that event on a debit card issued to the City of Red Lake Falls.
Sheriff Bernstien says he expects that more criminal charges as their investigation continues.by ndmuscle
Sentencing is scheduled this week in Marshall County District Court for a man accused of assaulting a peace officer in an altercation last year in Warren.
22 year old Shawn Lossing had been accused of Attempted Murder in a shooting at the home of his mother last October. He plead guilty in March to First Degree Assault, Discharging a Firearm within a Municipality, Domestic Assault and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm and will be sentenced today in an appearance before District Judge Tamara Yon.
Lossing was taken into custody after what began as a domestic disturbance as he became increasingly violent during the evening hours of October 16th. Lossing’s mother eventually called 911 after Lossing broke a bedroom door using the stock of a firearm, while she tried to take refuge behind it.
Two deputies arrived at the home and began looking for Lossing upstairs, along with Deputy Troy Brekke who found Lossing, armed with a rifle, near the back door of the home. Deputy Brekke grabbed the barrel of the gun as Lossing pointed the firearm at the officer – pushing the barrel upward as it fired into the ceiling. Brekke was able to get the weapon away, then struggled to restrain Lossing as Lossing shouted verbal threats. According to the complaint, Lossing was likely high on accellerants and alcohol at the time of the altercation.
According to the plea agreement, Lossing will be sentenced this week on 4 of the initial 9 charges. He remains in custody at the Marshall County Jail in Warren.by ndmuscle
Prosecutors are asking the Minnesota Supreme Court to reinstate the conviction of an HIV-positive man accused of passing the virus to another man, in a case that has drawn attention of medical and civil rights groups who say it violates the defendant’s constitutional rights.
Daniel James Rick, 32, of Minneapolis, was convicted in 2011 of attempted first-degree assault under a statute that makes it illegal to knowingly transfer a communicable disease. But his conviction was reversed last year, when the state Appeals Court found the statute was ambiguous. The state appealed, and oral arguments are scheduled for Tuesday.
Civil rights groups said the state’s interpretation of the statute violates the rights of HIV-positive adults to engage in consensual sex even if they have told their partners about the disease.
“What they are doing here is saying it doesn’t matter. Even if the person told the other person they were HIV positive, they still want to prosecute this case and turn the person into a sexual predator just because he is HIV positive,” said Scott Schoettes, HIV Project director for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“The application of this provision here is really trampling on a constitutional right, a fundamental right that we have to engage in intimate contact,” Schoettes added.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman disagreed. In court documents, he wrote the views of the medical, public health and civil rights groups who have weighed in on the case aren’t legally relevant.
“It absolutely is not a civil rights issue,” he said in a telephone interview. “There is no question about the conduct that Rick undertook. He knew he was HIV positive, he had been instructed on methods to avoid transmitting it, and he chose to ignore them.”
Freeman said he believes Rick is the first person in Minnesota to be prosecuted under the statute. It makes it a crime to knowingly transfer a communicable disease through “sexual penetration with another person without having first informed the other person” of his positive status. The statue also makes it illegal to spread the disease by transferring “blood, sperm, organs or tissue, except as deemed necessary for medical research or if disclosed on donor screening forms.”
Rick was acquitted under the first part of the statute, because the jury found he disclosed to the alleged victim that he was HIV positive before having sex with the man in 2009. But he was convicted under the second section. Since Rick was charged with attempted assault, the state did not have to prove the other man actually contracted HIV from Rick.
Freeman said in his appeal that the state statute is neither ambiguous nor vague and clearly encompasses the act of sexual penetration. He explained it was written to prohibit conduct by Rick and others “who knew they were infected … and went ahead and practiced unprotected sex anyway.”
The defense argued the second part of the statute under which Rick was convicted was meant to criminalize the transfer of HIV through medical procedures, not sexual intercourse. They also argued that the state’s interpretation is unconstitutional.
Thirty-four states and U.S. territories have laws that allow for criminal prosecution or enhanced sentences in HIV-specific cases. Other states have prosecuted HIV cases under general criminal laws, said Rashida Richardson, a staff attorney for the Center for HIV Law and Policy.
Minnesota’s legislation was passed in 1995, when less was known about HIV and its transmission. Medical professionals who weighed in on the Rick case said HIV infection is now seen as a chronic illness that can be managed with medications, and chances of transmitting the disease are low in many cases.
Kimberly Carbaugh, executive director of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care, said Minnesota’s law is outdated.
While prosecutors said the case is about protecting public health, Carbaugh said laws that criminalize HIV exposure or nondisclosure actually impede public health — by discouraging people from getting tested.
One of Rick’s attorneys, Grant Smith, said: “I think when you read the statute as a whole and you look at the plain meaning of the word in the statute and read it in context, the only way it can be interpreted is in favor of Mr. Rick.”
Rick is not in custody. He is charged in three other cases in Hennepin County. In one, he is charged with sexually assaulting a man who was incapacitated, without disclosing he was HIV positive. In another, he is accused of having sex with two men, without telling them of his HIV status; one later tested positive for HIV. The third case alleges he failed to register as a predatory offender. Those cases are on hold pending this appeal.
He also has a prior conviction of criminal sexual conduct involving an underage person.
Landon Ascheman, one of Rick’s attorneys, had no comment on the pending cases.
“Mr. Rick’s behavior is not criminal because it is sexual or because he is gay,” prosecutors wrote. “It is criminal because it necessarily risked the transfer of a serious disease despite his knowledge and tools to prevent it.”