Meeker County Board accepts Sheriff's detective's resignation

LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday accepted the resignation of a Meeker County Sheriff's Department detective who also faces a misdemeanor criminal charge.

LITCHFIELD -- The Meeker County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday accepted the resignation of a Meeker County Sheriff's Department detective who also faces a misdemeanor criminal charge.

According to Meeker County Attorney Stephanie Beckman, Roberts Hall Pace III, of Litchfield, resigned from his position as a Meeker County detective after an agreement was made between him and the county. Beckman said the resignation by Pace was voluntary and the county accepted the resignation, believing it was in the best interest of the county. The agreement reached between the county and Pace did not relate specifically to the criminal case, Beckman said.

Pace, 36, was charged with one count of unauthorized computer access March 5 in Meeker County District Court. The charge was filed after a 10-month investigation that dated back to May 2006.

Pace's voluntary resignation is effective as of May 21, 2007. Beckman said the particular date was agreed upon by Pace, the county, and a law enforcement union that was involved. Pace had worked full-time for Meeker County since March 1998.

According to the complaint made by a captain of the Dakota County Sheriff's Office, a deputy of Meeker County reported that someone had illegally entered his computer account at the Sheriff's Office and forwarded an e-mail to other members of the department. The forwarded e-mail involved union business and included details about problems the union was having with the administration.


During the investigation -- which was conducted by Dakota County to avoid conflict issues -- authorities were able to trace the unauthorized access of the deputy's account to a laptop issued to Pace.

Before his Tuesday resignation, Pace had been on unpaid personal leave since Jan. 26, as decided by the Meeker County Sheriff's Office.

Pace was scheduled for his first court hearing April 17, but it was cancelled when Pace submitted his written plea of "not guilty," said Michael Lieberg, the assistant county attorney for Stearns County and prosecutor of the case.

Since Pace has been charged with a misdemeanor, he was able to submit a written plea before the hearing, Lieberg said in a Thursday phone interview.

Pace's next appearance will be for a pre-trial hearing Sept. 25.

Lieberg said the date of the pre-trial could be the end to this case. If a plea agreement is reached in a case, it is common practice to enter the agreement at the time of the pre-trial.

"I have some reason to believe we may end up resolving it on that particular day, but I don't have anything set definitively," Lieberg said. "People probably won't know specifically until that day."

The case is being prosecuted by Stearns County to avoid a conflict of interest.


In other action during Tuesday's board meeting:

n The board approved a resolution for changing the fee of conditional use permit applications for wind energy facilities. Prior to the change, the county charged $1,000 for wind power towers and facilities. The new fee charges $1,000 per tower for the first five towers and then $750 per tower after five.

n Meeker County will purchase a new tailgate spreader for $6,724. The spreader will be used for spreading salt and sand on winter roadways and for adding gravel to the shoulders of county roads. According to County Administrator Paul Virnig, the new spreader will be more efficient, quicker, and work well for shouldering roads.

n Conditional use permits for three confinement barns and a brooder barn for Jennie-O Turkey Store and EBO Farms in Union Grove and Swede Grove townships were approved by the board. The addition of the Union Grove Township facilities could increase the site's turkey capacity to 36,000-65,600 turkeys.

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