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news Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
(320) 235-6769 customer support
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

This is the records summary for Jan. 9.

Barn burns south of Grove City in overnight fire

GROVE CITY — A barn containing equipment, but no livestock, was a total loss in an early morning fire Wednesday south of Grove City.

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According to the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office, deputies and the Grove City and Litchfield fire departments were called around 1:45 a.m. to the Edward and Megan Hoekstra residence at 54405 243rd Street in Acton Township.

The fire was discovered when the Hoekstras heard their dog barking, looked out and saw the barn fully engulfed in flames.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. The 25-foot by 40-foot barn, and a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta, a dirt bike, a 2010 Polaris ATV, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a John Deere mower and some horse tack, was a total loss. There was no livestock lost in the fire.

Owners had insurance on the barn and it was valued at $120,000.

District Court, Kandiyohi County

- Jeremy Chris Flickinger, 27, of Spicer, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of fifth-degree drug sale for selling 7.4 grams of marijuana to an informant for the CEE-VI Drug Task Force.

He will be sentenced Feb. 20.

 The charge was filed after the informant purchased the marijuana from Flickinger on June 21 along Fifth Avenue in Spicer. Flickinger was followed by agents, who arrested him and found the $120 in recorded task force funds in his possession.

- Leah Marie Marcks, 34, of Willmar, made her first appearance Wednesday on two felony charges of wrongfully obtaining assistance for allegedly collecting public assistance benefits while she was receiving money from a money order scheme.

Her next appearance is Jan. 21.

According to the complaint, Marcks applied for assistance from Kandiyohi County Family Services in 2000 and received benefits continuously through July 2013. As a recipient of public benefits, she was required to report all income and employment to family services officials.

An investigation by family services revealed that Marcks received more than $50,000 in money orders in 2013 and that she had kept some of the money while wire transferring the rest to individuals in Africa.

Marcks was interviewed and allegedly admitted to being part of the money order scheme, that she got started with it to earn money for her family, and that she took 5 to 10 percent of the money before sending it on people to Africa.

A recalculation of Marcks’ public assistance benefits, based on the income from the scheme, showed that she was not eligible for any type of assistance, except for one month of medical benefits for her children. The overpayment of benefits was $11,075.64.

- Daniel Timothy O’Connor, 59, of Montevideo, made his first appearance Wednesday on a felony charge of receiving stolen property for allegedly possessing a stolen Bobcat skid loader.

He was released on his personal recognizance. His next appearance is Jan. 21.

According to the complaint, the investigation began when a Willmar Police officer was called on Oct. 28 to Farm Rite Equipment in Willmar on a report that employees there had discovered a Bobcat loader brought to the shop for repair was a stolen machine. The employees had run the serial number through a stolen equipment database kept by Bobcat dealers and determined it to be stolen.

The person who had brought the machine in for work, identified by photo as O’Connor, had allegedly told one of the employees that he knew the Bobcat was stolen property, but he didn’t steal it.

The decals and the plate for the serial number had been changed on the machine. The employees had used the serial number printed elsewhere on the machine to determine what the accurate serial number.

A review of the statewide database kept by law enforcement showed that the Bobcat had been stolen from Golden Valley.

O’Connor was interviewed and said he’d possessed the machine for 1½ to 2 years, that he bought it from a friend for $6,500 and that the friend had told him after the sale that it was stolen. He said he knew for more than a year that the machine was stolen, but didn’t tell anyone because he had put money into repairs for the machine.

The value of the Bobcat was estimated at $15,200.

- Michael Gaylen Garcia, 16, of Willmar, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Wednesday on a misdemeanor charge of careless driving.

Garcia was sentenced to six months of probation and 15 hours of community service. He was also ordered to obey his mother’s curfew and attend school regularly.

As part of a plea agreement, a felony charge of second-degree assault and a gross misdemeanor for carrying a gun in a public place were dismissed.

Felony charges against 16- and 17-year-old defendants are public records.

Garcia and Dion Hernandez, 20, of Willmar, were charged in the case. Hernandez pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor count of carrying a gun in a public place and was sentenced to 365 days in jail, with credit for 97 days served and 268 days stayed, $3,000 in fines, with $2,000 stayed, and two years of probation.

The charges were filed after Willmar police were called around 4 p.m. July 24 to the intersection of 13th Street and Becker Avenue Southwest to investigate an incident.

A man reported that a car had driven up quickly and that the driver, Garcia, and Hernandez got out of the vehicle, with Hernandez leveling the gun at his chest with the muzzle about two feet away from his body. The man said that both Hernandez and Garcia were yelling and screaming at him.

Witnesses had reported a description of the vehicle involved and then told the officers that the five individuals who were in the car were walking down 11th Street.

The officers located the five men and Garcia told them that they’d had a friendly chat with the people at the 13th Street/Becker Avenue location. He said there was a 12-gauge shotgun in the car and that he used it for hunting. He told officers that Hernandez had gotten the gun out, but held it low and denied pulling the weapon on anyone.

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