Probation for son of local man charged in fox urine case in 2008
WILLMAR -- Thomas Albert Wagar, 25, of Minneapolis, was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail, which was stayed, a $500 fine plus $90 in court fees and probation for at least 45 days or until the fine is paid and the night vision goggles he was convicted of possessing are returned to the military and verified as undamaged.
Wagar was convicted by a jury in December of a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property, which was reduced from a felony level charge.
The goggles were used by his father during a Sept. 16, 2008, homecoming incident that included spraying teens with a squirt gun filled with water and fox urine.
Mennis said the case would be reopened and Wagar ordered to pay for repairs to the goggles if they were found to be damaged. He ordered the court administrator to release them to the county attorney's office for shipment back to the Department of Defense.
During the sentencing, Mennis chided Wagar for depriving his fellow soldiers of the safety and well-being that could have been provided by the goggles, which he took home from Iraq in 2006 after serving there with the U.S. Marine Corps.
Mennis called Wagar's claim of attempting to return the goggles "disingenuous at best," and said "for all intents and purposes, you did nothing" to properly return the goggles for use by other soldiers in the war effort.
Wagar made no statement to the court during the hearing.
County Attorney Boyd Beccue had argued for the stayed jail time, probation and a larger fine of $850. He argued before sentencing that Wagar could have simply followed the military chain of command and the goggles could have been returned to the field, where they would have been used against the armed enemy.
"The bottom line is that the Department of Defense will be able to recover the property and return them to troops in the field," Beccue said, rather than having them used by a man claiming to defend his home against teenagers with toilet paper.
Wagar's attorney, Brad Kluver, argued that his client should not have to pay restitution if the goggles were returned and that Wagar didn't need to be on probation because he is a "solid citizen" who is going to school and wants to attend the University of Minnesota to study engineering.
Wagar was originally charged with a felony. However, the jury placed a value of less than $500 on the goggles, in effect reducing the verdict to a misdemeanor.
Wagar and his father, Scott Edward Wagar, 51, of Willmar, were both charged in January with felony counts for possessing the goggles. All of the charges connected to the homecoming incident -- including misdemeanors for fifth-degree assault, disorderly conduct and theft -- against Scott Wagar were dismissed in March.
Cpl. David Nester of the Sheriff's Office testified during the trial that Scott Wagar showed him the goggles on Sept. 17, alleging that they were damaged during the homecoming incident the night before at Wagar's home east of Willmar. The incident included an altercation between Wagar and another person, who was among a group of young people who had come to his property. Wagar had sprayed the group with a squirt gun filled with water and fox urine. They, in turn, had thrown eggs and toilet paper on his property.