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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WILLMAR -- Jessica Beth Kruger, 29, of Litchfield, pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony theft charge for taking $39,516.99 intended to help students pay school expenses from Lutheran Social Service in Willmar. As part of a plea agreement in Kandiyohi County District Court, she paid $13,000 in restitution on Thursday and will make arrangements to repay the remainder of the money and will receive a stay of imposition on her sentence.
WILLMAR -- Harvey Alford Carlson, 77, of Pennock, was found guilty Thursday of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for molesting a girl when she was 5 to 11 years old. The verdict, handed down by Judge Michael J. Thompson, came after a two-day court trial in Kandiyohi County District Court. Carlson was or-dered to be taken into custody and will be sentenced June 25. He will be sentenced under the state statutes from 1988 to 1994, when the abuse happened.
WILLMAR -- Steven Douglas Byers, 55, of Kerkhoven, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and 10 years of probation for stealing more than $17,000 from West Central Industries. Byers was ordered to pay $21,030.96 in restitution, which includes $17,676.96 stolen from WCI, plus additional costs for fin-ancial re-cords audits and attorney fees. Under a plea agreement reach-ed in Kandiyohi County District Court, nine additional felony charges of financial transaction card fraud and theft against Byers were dismissed.
BENSON -- Benson High School counselors and representatives from the local ministerial association are available today to help students cope with the deaths of two students Wednesday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash near Benson. According to Swift County Chief Deputy John Holtz, Cody DeVaan, 16, of rural DeGraff, and Benjamin Mast, 15, of Benson, were passengers in a northbound 1998 Pontiac driven by Justin Moist, 17, of rural Benson. The car struck the side of a westbound semi tractor-trailer driven by Benjamin Miller, 33, of Benson. The crash happened around 4:30 p.m.
BENSON -- The two teenagers killed in a two-vehicle crash Wednesday south of Benson are Cody DeVaan, 16, of rural DeGraff, and Benjamin Mast, 15, of Benson. According to John Holtz, chief deputy of the Swift County Sheriff's office, the boys were passengers in a northbound 1998 Pontiac driven by Justin Moist, 17, of rural Benson. The car struck the side of a westbound semi tractor-trailer driven by Benjamin Miller, 33, of Benson. The crash happened around 4:30 p.m.
WILLMAR -- A Willmar couple was sentenced Wednesday to stayed prison time, 10 years of probation, 180 days in the county jail and 200 hours of community service for wrongfully obtaining public assistance. Jose Angel Vallejo, 41, and Mariana Luna Vallejo, 39, were ordered to pay at least $250 each per month in restitution for the $108,438.92 in assistance they wrongfully obtained between Aug. 1, 2000, and Nov. 1, 2009.
FAIRFAX -- Authorities have arrested a man who allegedly abducted a 14-year-old Fairfax girl early Tuesday as she was delivering newspapers in west central Minnesota. Charges are expected Wednesday against a 25-year-old Marshall man who allegedly abducted the girl. Renville County Sheriff Jerry Agre said he expects the charges to be kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct. According to Agre, the girl left home around 6:15 a.m. to complete her paper route. When the girl failed to return home at her usual time, her mother went out to look for her and found her abandoned bicycle.
WILLMAR -- Willmar Police Chief Jim Kulset is retiring, effective July 23, after 33 years of police work. He has spent almost all his career with the Willmar department. An official letter of retirement was sent to City Administrator Michael Schmit and the Police Department on April 16, Kulset said Monday. Kulset joined the department in 1977, after about a year working as an officer in Morris. He worked on patrol until 1980, served as an investigator from 1980 to 1986 and as patrol sergeant from 1986 to 1993.
WILLMAR -- Ismail Abokor Mohamud, 27, of Minneapolis, was found guilty Friday of fifth-degree drug possession, for having khat in his vehicle, and theft, for his role in stealing more than $500 in baby formula from a Willmar grocer in January. The verdict was returned around 1:15 p.m. Friday by a jury in Kandiyohi County District Court. Mohamud will be sentenced June 1. Mohamud and Liban Hassan Osman, 28, of Blaine, were both charged after the January incident. Osman pleaded guilty and was sentenced on a gross misdemeanor charge of theft.
WILLMAR -- A 22-year-old Willmar man and a 17-year-old boy have both been charged with felony second-degree assault, and second- and third-degree riot for their roles in an alleged fight over a girl. Unconditional bail was set at $50,000 for Efren Vasquez, 22, who appeared in court Friday morning. Conditional bail was allowed for $1,000, provided he have no contact with others involved in the case and possess no weapons. His next appearance is May 10 in Kandiyohi County District Court. Jeremy Josh Williams appeared Thursday on the charges.