In new twist, Wagar, son each face felony charge
WILLMAR -- Two of the three misdemeanor charges against Scott Edward Wagar have been dismissed. But now Wagar and his adult son face a felony charge for receiving stolen property for allegedly possessing stolen, military-issue night vision goggles.
Wagar, 50, is the rural Willmar man charged in a Sept. 16 homecoming incident that included spraying teens with a squirt gun filled with water and fox urine. He appeared Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court before Judge Michael J. Thompson.
After meeting in chambers with Dain Olson, the assistant county attorney prosecuting the case, and Doug Kluver, Wagar's attorney, Thompson reviewed the progress in the case in open court. The fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct charges have been dismissed, leaving a misdemeanor theft charge, for allegedly demanding $100 for a cell phone he found after the incident.
Olson also confirmed that the state has dismissed two motions, one seeking a change of venue for the case and another seeking to limit evidence presented in the case to only the September incident. An evidentiary hearing, and action on Kluver's defense motion to dismiss the case, is set for Feb. 25.
On the new felony charge for receiving stolen property, Thompson allowed Wagar to be released on his personal recognizance and set his release conditions the same as for the misdemeanor file. Kluver requested an omnibus hearing, which was also set for Feb. 25.
Court documents also show that Wagar's son, Thomas Albert Wagar, 24, of Minneapolis, has been charged in Kandiyohi County District Court with a felony for receiving stolen property. His first appearance is set for Feb. 19.
According to the new complaint, along with reporting the incident on Sept. 17, Wagar also reported damage to a pair of night vision goggles he was wearing that evening. They appeared to be military issue, and Wagar said he received them from his son. The deputy suspected they were stolen, took photos of the goggles and contacted an investigator with the U.S. Department of Defense. Using the photos, the investigator positively identified them as military property, but needed a serial number to identify from which unit they were taken.
The deputy returned to Wagar's home on Dec. 12. Wagar said he had given the goggles back to his son and refused to provide contact information for him. On Jan. 6, the Defense Department investigator went to Thomas Wagar's home in Minneapolis, where Thomas Wagar turned over the goggles and admitted he had taken them while serving with a Marine unit. He said he had given them to his father and got them back during a visit at Thanksgiving.
The complaint states that the replacement cost for the goggles is $2,748. Military personnel at Fort McCoy, Wis., identified the goggles as controlled technology intended for and assigned to a combat unit in Iraq.
In a phone interview Tuesday with the Tribune, Wagar claimed he is innocent, and said that he gave the goggles back to his son when the young man got his own place to live. He also said his son had followed what he understood was the appropriate procedure of notifying his superior officer after he found the goggles.
"My understanding is that the way he obtained them is a gray area," the elder Wagar said, adding that his son was told to hold the goggles until asked for them, and that that's what he did, turning them over when asked by the investigator.
According to the original complaint, Wagar reported to the county sheriff on Sept. 17 he had been in an altercation with another person near his property east of Willmar, and that he possibly had broken the person's finger. He said he was fed up with his house being toilet-papered and had taken matters into his own hands. He was out along his property line the night before, between 10:30 and 11 p.m., and observed 15 to 20 people running toward his place through a soybean field. His observation was made through night vision goggles. He said he told the group to leave and sprayed them with a super-soaker squirt gun filled with water and fox urine. While this was happening, he said, someone grabbed him from behind and they struggled with each other.
Later, a Sheriff's Office detective received a tip from a 16-year-old teenager who was in the group of people who had walked toward Wagar's property by following a drainage ditch and walking through the field. The teen said he was sprayed by the squirt gun and thought the liquid was human urine. The teen said he grabbed the squirt gun, and Wagar grabbed him and they struggled until another person started choking the teen and someone threatened to break his finger. He was able to free himself.
In a Dec. 16 interview with the Tribune, Wagar said that was about the same time as the deputy arrived. He and his son later surveyed what was left behind after the incident. They found 55 intact rolls of toilet paper, four and one-half dozen eggs, a bag of plastic forks and -- most alarming to them -- two screwdrivers and broken drumsticks with sharp ends.
They also found the cell phone. Wagar says he tracked down the owner and talked with his father. Wagar was asking for $100 in damages to his place and the neighboring fields, which had hundreds of dollars worth of crop loss because the group trampled the soybeans. He later turned the phone over to law enforcement.