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MnDNR, former manager reach settlement in defamation lawsuit

MINNEAPOLIS -- A former enforcement manager with the state Department of Natural Resources has settled a defamation lawsuit with the agency for $250,000.

Cathy Hamm worked for the DNR for 35 years. She was fired in 2008 following a game-warden conference the previous year.

The controversy began when a legislative audit of the conference blamed the DNR for misspending $300,000 in taxpayer money and staff time.

The DNR blamed Hamm, firing her and putting out a news release saying investigators had found she committed "serious employee misconduct."

An arbiter with the state's Bureau of Mediation Services ruled that Hamm was wrongly fired.

DNR spokesman Scott Pengelly tells the Pioneer Press the agency doesn't admit wrongdoing and settled to avoid court costs.