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Wohnoutka enters guilty plea in Melvin's brawl, fire alarm charge to be dismissed later

WILLMAR -- Spicer's mayor pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a Sept. 1 bar brawl at Melvin's on the Lake in Spicer. The plea came a day before Perry Wohnoukta, 47, was to stand trial in Kandiyohi County District C...

WILLMAR -- Spicer's mayor pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a Sept. 1 bar brawl at Melvin's on the Lake in Spicer.

The plea came a day before Perry Wohnoukta, 47, was to stand trial in Kandiyohi County District Court. He will be sentenced on Feb. 15. District Judge Michael J. Thompson ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

As part of a plea agreement, a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct during the same incident will be dismissed and another charge for tampering with a fire alarm will be continued for dismissal for one year, meaning it will be dismissed after a year's time provided Wohnoukta not interfere with any fire alarm systems. That misdemeanor stemmed from a July 29 incident in which the mayor disabled the fire alarm at a senior apartment building in the city. During the plea hearing, Wohnoutka admitted to the judge that he was intoxicated and had memory issues with the details of Melvin's incident.

"To be honest with you," he told the judge, "I was so intoxicated that I couldn't tell you who was there."

Thompson then asked Wohnoutka if he had access to the arrest report, which included allegations that he elbowed the face of a bartender who was helping him onto his bicycle and hit a bouncer. The mayor reported that he had access to the report and that information revealed in the sheriff's office investigation, plus his recent stint in alcohol treatment, had an impact on his decision to plead to the charges. Wohnoutka entered treatment at Project Turnabout in Granite Falls in early November.

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The assault and disorderly conduct charges were filed after the incident in which Wohnoutka had a blood-alcohol level of 0.217, according to a breath test administered after he was arrested by Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputies.

The fire alarm charge was filed in early October.

According to a Sheriff's Office report accompanying the charge, a Melvin's bartender called 911 around 6:20 p.m. July 29. She said that the mayor had come into the bar and told her that someone had called him to the Green Lake Living Center, 257 Hillcrest Ave., and that he had gone to the apartments and shut off the fire alarm. The incident report from the Spicer Fire Department, which is included in the court papers, shows that eight firefighters responded to the building. They were told that the residents had called the mayor, who came over and disabled the alarm.

At a later interview with deputies, the bartender said Wohnoutka came into the bar and told her to call the fire department because he'd just shut off the alarm.

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