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Fillmore County District Court

Fri, Oct 8th, 2010
Posted in Court

Donald Leroy Whitehead, a 47-year old white male from Chatfield, appeared before Judge Robert Benson in District Court on Monday, October 4, facing four counts of driving while impaired and one count of driving without a valid driver's license. If convicted on all five counts, Whitehead could face a maximum penalty of 17 years in prison and fines totaling up to $37,000. Chatfield Police Officer Grace McCallum was on patrol September 11, 2010, when she pulled into Kwik Trip and notice Donald Whitehead in the driver's seat of a vehicle parked in the lot. Officer McCallum knew he did not have a valid license, so a few minutes later when he pulled out of the Kwik Trip lot, she conducted a traffic stop. As Officer McCallum approached his vehicle she asked the defendant for his license and proof of insurance. He could not provide either one, and while she was talking with him, Officer McCallum detected a strong odor of alcohol on his breath. Whitehead failed the Field Sobriety Tests and a breath test indicated a .147. Officer McCallum placed the defendant under arrest and transported him to the Fillmore County Jail. While being booked, officers discovered a small bag on the defendant that contained marijuana. Whitehead has a previous record for driving while under the influence and without a driver's license because of alcohol, all within the past 10 years. He was also convicted of a prior felony DUI in 2004. Judge Benson set conditional bail at $3,000 and unconditional bail at $14,000. Whitehead's next scheduled court appearance is set for October 25, 2010.

On Monday, October 4, 2010, Ryan Michael Scott, a 22-year old white male from Ostrander, appeared before Judge Robert R. Benson in District Court facing six counts of burglary and receiving stolen goods. If convicted on all six counts, the maximum penalty he could receive is 13 years in prison, 90 days in county jail and fines amounting to as much as $30,000. From about April 12 through May 20, 2010, the defendant allegedly entered the Corner Store in Ostrander and stole over $2,500.00 in DVD's, VHS tapes, and tobacco products. On April 13, the owner, Brian Minor, contacted Ostrander Police Chief Tom Mosher reporting an apparent break in to his store, which had been closed since November 16, 2009, but still had merchandise inside. At that time Minor reported cigarettes missing along with about 69 DVD movies. About a month later, on May 20, Mosher was notified that the Corner Store had once again been broken into and this time nine more DVD's were missing along with about 12 VHS movies. At this point in time there were no suspects, but on July 26 Mosher, who was off duty at the time, was notified by Deputy Tim Rasmussen of a domestic disturbance in Ostrander. Officer Rasmussen arrested Ryan Michael Scott for domestic assault on his wife, and the next day, July 27, Mosher made a follow-up visit to the couple's apartment. At this time he observed a great deal of broken glass on the floor from an entertainment center that Scott had smashed the previous evening and several DVD movies strewn on the floor. When asked about them, the victim said she bought them at a video store in Rochester. The next day Mosher returned to the apartment again and this time he picked up one of the movies that was labeled coming from the Corner Store. The victim stated those weren't hers and asked Mosher to remove them from the apartment. Later, Minor confirmed that the movies were the ones missing from his store. Mosher continued his investigation of the case by talking to Scott, who said he and his wife were both involved in the theft but that another individual did the actual break-in. Scott would not reveal the name of the other individual. Scott's wife denied having any part in the theft. Judge Benson set unconditional bail at $10,000. Scott's next court appearance is scheduled for October 11, 2010.

Richard Lawrence Ernst, a 33-year old white male from Canton, appeared in District Court before Judge Robert R. Benson facing four counts of burglary and theft. If convicted on all four counts, Ernst could be sentenced to 21 years in prison with fines totaling as much as $43,000.00. This case goes back to March 29, 2008, when Fillmore County Sheriff's Deputy Jesse Grabau was dispatched to the Canton Liquor Store (a municipality), regarding a missing money bag. The manager stated that there was $593.33 in the bag. The last employee working the night before reported that she had hidden the money bag in its usual place before closing and locking up the store. The next day when the manager went to retrieve it, the bag was missing, but there were no signs of a forced entry. Up until August 3 of this year there were no suspects in this case. However, on that day Fillmore County Chief Deputy Tom Kycek gave Grabau a letter he had received that stated Richard Ernst had confessed to the 2008 burglary of the liquor store. Grabau asked Ernst to meet him at Canton City Hall, which he did. Deputy Les Ladewig was also present for this interview. Ernst admitted that he was able to obtain a key from the store from which he made a copy that he used to gain entrance the night of the burglary. He knew where the money was hidden from an employee who worked there. This person did not tell him about the hiding place, but while waiting for the individual to close, he observed about where the money was placed before locking up for the night. Judge Benson set unconditional bail at $10,.000 and set Ernst's next court appearance for October 11, 2010.

Shane Roger Marx appeared before Judge Robert Benson in District Court on Monday, October 4, 2010, for sentencing. Based on the defendant's plea of guilty to theft by swindle, a lesser offense to count 1, the court found him guilty and sentenced him to be committed to the Commissioner of Corrections for a period of 28 months, with no stay of execution. The defendant must serve two-thirds of that sentence in prison and a maximum of one-third of that time on supervised release. Marx was further ordered to pay total restitution to the victim in the amount of $6,400, along with court fees and fines of about $140. All monies the defendant receives while serving his prison sentence shall first be applied to restitution and after that to his court costs.

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