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Man faces felony charges, tampered with electric service at NL Legion

WILLMAR -- Sebastian Allan Amundson, 22, of New London, made his first court appearance Wednesday on felony property damage charges for allegedly tampering with the electrical service components at the New London American Legion.

The charges include two counts of first-degree property damage for intentionally damaging property and causing a reasonably foreseeable risk of bodily harm and two counts of first-degree criminal damage to property.

The charges against Amundson allege that he jammed steak knives into the electrical boxes, cut wires with a knife and stuck a screwdriver into a light switch. In addition, he filed worker's compensation claims for electrical burns to his hands, receiving what the general manager of the Legion called a "sizable" amount of work comp money since April 2012.

Amundson's next appearance in Kandiyohi County District Court was not set at the hearing, but he is scheduled to appear today in another case that includes nine felony counts for allegedly stealing guns from a Spicer storage locker in November. His next appearance in a third case, on second-degree assault and terroristic threats charges for allegedly pointing a gun at a woman's head in June, is Oct. 3.

According to the complaint, on April 8, officials at the American Legion reported damage to an electrical box to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office. The responding deputy was met by two electricians and a power company representative, who reported problems at the Legion with the circuit breaker box control panel.

The electricians, the power company representative and the Minnesota Electrical Inspector's Office had been investigating the problem and had found the circuit breakers physically blown out of the circuit box on multiple occasions. An heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor had also investigated whether the problem was because of a heating or air conditioning unit problem.

The electrician informed the deputy that numerous steak knives had been jammed between the components of the electrical box. The knives had burn marks from arching and there was burned and charred wire recovered from the box.

Staff members at the Legion reported that electrical problems, where the fans in the kitchen stopped working and the building had to be evacuated, had happened on Friday or Saturday nights over several months.

Officials reviewed security camera footage that showed Amundson, who worked there as a cook, going into the utility room where the electrical service was located and then the power going out. An electrician had stayed at the Legion on a Friday and a Saturday to monitor the situation, only to have Amundson enter the utility room as soon as the electrician left the room, and then the power went out.

The day after the initial report, the power went out again during a bingo night. Staff members noted that Amundson was working that night and there was video footage of him walking into the electrical room and then the power going out. The Legion had to be closed because of the outage.

A detective and Legion officials compared a list of the outages and Amundson's time sheets, finding that every power outage happened while Amundson was working.

The investigation also revealed that Amundson had believed he'd be promoted to head cook after the prior head cook quit working at the club and was upset that another employee got the job.

The repair bills from the electrician and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor were tallied at approximately $5,000, plus about $3,000 in lost business due to the closures.

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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