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Downtown flag burner gets jail, fine, probation

WILLMAR — Jeffrey James Ackerman, 40, of Willmar, was sentenced Tuesday to 90 days in jail, $2,000 in fines and a year of probation on two fifth-degree arson charges for burning two U.S. flags belonging to downtown Willmar businesses this summer.

As part of his sentence handed down by District Judge Michael J. Thompson in Kandiyohi County District Court, Ackerman was also ordered to pay $60 in restitution, write letters of apology, complete a mental health evaluation and be evaluated for a cognitive skills program.

Ackerman was given credit for 29 days already served in jail and the remaining 61 days were stayed for one year. In addition, $1,000 of the fines was also stayed for a year.

The charges were filed after June 1, when owners and managers of the Kitchen Fair, along the 300 block of Fifth Street Southwest, and at the Midas Auto station, along the 700 block of Litchfield Avenue Southwest, found the damaged flags when they arrived to open for business.

Surveillance video footage recorded just after 1 a.m. that morning was used to connect Ackerman to the crimes. A cigarette lighter was used to start the fires, according to information previously provided by Police Chief David Wyffels.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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