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Employee and resident of Willmar licensed facility charged with multiple burglaries

WILLMAR — A former employee of a licensed community residential facility in Willmar and a vulnerable adult who lived there have been charged with 14 burglary- and theft-related charges for allegedly taking property from garages and vehicles while delivering newspapers.

Both individuals made court appearance this week.

The incident was also investigated by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, which concluded that neglect occurred when the employee — identified in court documents as Sebastian Nickolas Roush, 18, of Willmar — failed to provide care to a vulnerable adult.

Roush and the resident, Matthew Lee Johnson, 32, of Atwater, are both charged with 10 felonies for burglary, theft and receiving stolen property.

They also face a gross misdemeanor charge of criminal damage to property and three misdemeanor charges of tampering with a motor vehicle.

According to the criminal complaints filed against the men, property valued at $3,700 was taken from at least nine different locations from a period between April 22 and June 6.

A majority of the targeted homes were in southwest Willmar.

The items that were taken include power tools, cell phones, home stereo equipment, computers, clothing and automotive items.

According to the complaint, Johnson said Roush would accompany him on an early-morning paper route and they would look into garages and vehicles for things to steal.

Johnson said some of the stolen items were stored at a home of Roush's relative. During a search by law enforcement, items allegedly stolen were found in that relative's garage.

Other items were allegedly found in Johnson's bedroom at the community-based residential home, which is operated by Crows Nest Programs.

During a routine room search in June, an employee found questionable items in Johnson's room. Suspecting they were stolen, some of the items were locked in a staff office.

The next morning, however, those items were gone.

Johnson told law enforcement that he and Roush broke into the office the night before, drove to Spicer and dumped the stolen items — mostly electronic equipment — off a public dock into Green Lake.

According to the Department of Human Services' investigation, Roush's personnel file was also missing from the office.

Roush told law enforcement he had been with Johnson when the items were stolen and when they were dumped in the lake but he denied going into the vehicles or residences and denied taking any of the items.

Some of the property was recovered and returned to the owners.

It's estimated that $643 worth of electronics found in 4-6 feet of water in Green Lake were unusable because of water damage.

Bail was set at $50,000 for Johnson and Roush and both were granted a public defender.

In a report filed July 27, the Department of Human Services determined Roush was responsible for recurring maltreatment and is disqualified from a job where he would have contact with people receiving services at a number of state licensed facilities. That action is subject to appeal, according to the report.

The report also said the facility had adequate procedures in place but they were not followed. The facility identified a need to retrain staff on the reporting of Maltreatment of the Vulnerable Adults Act.

Roush's next court appearance is Aug. 28.

Johnson's next court appearance is Oct. 2.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750