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First show in court for police chief, wife charged in theft case

OLIVIA -- Danube Police Chief Lester Schneider Jr., 39, and his spouse, Jammie Jean Schneider, 38, both of Danube, made their first appearances Thursday in district court in Renville County.

Neither entered pleas. They each face felony and gross misdemeanor charges of theft and theft - indifferent to rights of owner. The chief faces additional charges of misconduct by a public official and receiving unauthorized compensation. District Judge Bruce Christopherson allowed both defendants to remain free on their own recognizance. He also ordered that both be formally booked on the charges.

Christopherson ordered that omnibus hearings and jury trials be scheduled for the defendants.

Attorney Daniel Honsey, of Hutchinson, represented the Schneiders. He declined to comment on the charges against his clients following the brief hearing.

The criminal complaint against the Schneiders alleges that Lester Schneider had control of the Danube Fire Department's smelt fry fund and wrote three checks totaling $4,650 to his wife in July, August and September of 2006.

She allegedly deposited the funds in their personal checking account. The two admitted using the money for their own personal use, including paying a couple of mortgage payments, according to the allegations in the criminal complaint.

On Oct. 31, 2006, a deposit of $5,045 was made into the Danube Fire Department's smelt fry fund.

Lester Schneider is currently on active duty as police chief in the community of just over 560 people.

The charges against the Schneiders were filed in July. They followed an investigation by a detective with the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Department.

Deborah Simonson, assistant county attorney in Meeker County, is serving as special prosecutor for the case. The Renville County Sheriff's and Attorney's offices both deferred investigatory and prosecutorial duties to officials in the neighboring counties due to their professional working relationships with the police chief.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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