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Willmar man pleads to knuckles charge, charges from alleged burglary reduced after further investigation

WILLMAR — Five felony charges against two Willmar men accused of burglarizing a man’s residence and threatening and robbing him in April have been eliminated from the complaints against the men after investigators found new information about the case.

The charges against Rene Rivera III, 19, and Hippolito Manuel Sanchez, 23, were reduced by the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s office on June 18 to two misdemeanor counts against each man.

Rivera pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon, metal knuckles, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, with 26 days stayed and credit for four days served, a $1,000 fine, with $900 stayed, and a year of probation.

A disorderly conduct charge against Rivera was dismissed.

Sanchez faces a fourth-degree burglary charge and a disorderly conduct count. His next appearance is Aug. 28 in Kandiyohi County District Court.

A third man, Ray Travis Rivera, 19, of Willmar, has pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of fourth-degree burglary. He will be sentenced July 14.

The original complaint was filed after April 5, when Willmar police were notified about a fight in the southwest quadrant of the city. A man claimed he had been robbed by several men, later identified as Sanchez and Ray Rivera. The man said they had come after him and pushed their way into his apartment. He also claimed Rene Rivera threatened him.

The man also claimed that Sanchez and Rivera removed the man’s property, including athletic shoes and clothing, jewelry and cash, from the apartment.

The amended complaint notes that on May 5, Rene Rivera gave a statement to investigators that the man had come to his residence before the incident and took $400 from his wallet while he had stepped out of the room.

Rivera told investigators that he and Sanchez went to the man’s apartment and were allowed to take the items as collateral until the man could pay the money back. He said a fight broke out when the man’s friends arrived at the location.

When investigators went to confirm the man’s version of the events, he refused to cooperate and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, saying he wanted the charges dropped and his property back.

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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