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Former fireman pleads not guilty to theft, trial date set


WILLMAR -- Chad Michael Johnson, 38, of Willmar, has pleaded not guilty to three felony charges of theft by swindle for allegedly taking $15,300 from the Willmar Fire Department for his personal use.

A trial date of April 7 was set in Kandiyohi County District Court. Johnson appeared Wednesday before District Judge Michael J. Thompson for an omnibus hearing. The attorneys in the case, assistant county attorney Dain Olson and defense attorney John Mack, did not argue motions during the hearing, but both will submit briefs to the court.

The charges against Johnson were filed in September.

He made his first appearance in Oc-tober and was re-leased on his personal rec-ognizance.

According to an affidavit of restitution filed with the court, the Fire Department is seeking $10,088.59 in restitution. The amount includes $5,400 from two department funds, $4,000 in audit costs and $688.59 for changing locks in doors and cabinets at the department.

After the charges were filed in September, Fire Chief Marv Calvin confirmed that Johnson is no longer working as a firefighter with the department. According to the Fire Department website, Johnson retired from the department last year with 12 years of service.

According to the criminal complaint, Calvin notified Willmar police on June 30 that a recent audit of department accounts had revealed several questionable transactions made by Johnson, who was the head treasurer for the department. Included in those transactions was money that appeared to have been taken by Johnson from the department's relief association and the firefighters association accounts.

Johnson was interviewed by a police detective twice and allegedly admitted to taking the money, but said he planned to pay it back. He reviewed a number of checks written from the Fire Department accounts to Johnson. The checks were written between August 2008 and April 2010 for a total of $15,300.

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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