Contractor pleads guilty to utility theft


OLIVIA — An electrical contractor has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge for illegally tapping into the Olivia Municipal Utilities electrical distribution system.

Roger Bradley Ridler, 42, of Olivia pleaded guilty Monday in Renville County District Court to the misdemeanor charge of theft for obtaining the electrical services without paying.

Ridler was sentenced to 90 days in jail which was stayed for one year, and he was placed on supervised probation for one year. He must pay restitution and write a letter of apology.

He originally faced a felony theft charge, which was dismissed when he was sentenced.

According to court records, Ridler admitted to tapping into the power service before it reached his meter, in part because the city would not give him a rebate for lighting several years earlier.


The criminal complaint states the city lost $925.07 in electrical revenues during a three-year period covered by the statute of limitations. City officials believe the alleged theft of electricity began sometime after 2007, when Ridler reportedly ran the electrical service underground from the utility pole in the alley to his residence. The total loss to the city is an estimated $4,092.55.

In 42 years in the newspaper industry, Linda Vanderwerf has worked at several daily newspapers in Minnesota, including the Mesabi Daily News, now called the Mesabi Tribune in Virginia. Previously, she worked for the Las Cruces Sun-News in New Mexico and the Rapid City Journal in the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has been a reporter at the West Central Tribune for nearly 27 years.

Vanderwerf can be reached at email: or phone 320-214-4340
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