Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
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ELLSWORTH — A Prescott man convicted of plunging a knife into a woman's neck was sentenced last week to prison. Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Joe Boles said even though the near-fatal assault Dennis A. Frank committed last year on the woman appeared out of character to those who knew him, the hints of premeditation and the phony story he told police dictated a prison term. The fake story, Boles said at the April 4 sentencing, was an attempt "to get him off the hook."
Authorities said it took a costume, a comment and a cast of accomplices to pull off a con that fleeced Walmart out of thousands of dollars at various stores in western Wisconsin and Minnesota. According to court documents, the main suspect would enter a Walmart clad in a former employee's vest, then approach a cashier, who would be told it was breaktime. From there, the suspect would open up the cash register to allow a string of accomplices to buy thousands of dollars in gift cards. And then, according to authorities, it was off to the next store.
PRESCOTT — Reports of a man missing in dangerous temperatures ended with him being found cold, but alive. Prescott Police Chief Rob Funk said the man was discovered "a little worse for the wear" during the Tuesday, Dec. 26, incident, though apparently free of serious injuries. He said a Prescott police officer found the man just south of town near St. Joseph's Cemetery along Monroe Street. The man had gone out to look for his dog — a trek that took him to the Mississippi River, where Funk said the man fell in.
A Minnesota National Guard helicopter was damaged this month while landing at Red Wing Regional Airport in Bay City. According to a Guard spokeswoman, the incident occurred the evening of Dec. 13 while a three-person crew was returning from a training exercise. The UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter “experienced technical difficulties” while attempting to land Guard Capt. Holly Rockow said.
A Hastings man is due in court next month on allegations he embezzled more than $70,000 from a Prescott-area golf course. Pierce County prosecutors allege Robert P. Magnuson pocketed cash after issuing fake golf club memberships at Clifton Highlands between September 2016 and March of this year. The 58-year-old is charged with one count of felony theft by false representation.
Mike Perucca was heading to a medical call Sunday night in the town of St. Joseph when another emergency caught his attention before he got out of his North Hudson neighborhood. "I noticed an abnormal amount of smoke in the area," he said. It didn't take long for the St. Joe first responder — who also works as a Hudson firefighter — to determine the smoke was coming from a garage fire at 700 Fourth St. N. Perucca, who's also the city of Hudson's fire inspector, noticed an orange glow in the garage as he approached the house just before 10:30 p.m. Nov. 12.
Two former Prescott police officers are suing the city in hopes of getting their jobs back. The suit, filed Oct. 16 in Pierce County Circuit Court, seeks a reversal of the decision that left former officers Bryan Massman and Ryan Most out of work with the city of Prescott. "The decision was arbitrary, unreasonable and oppressive," according to the lawsuit. City Administrator Jayne Brand said Monday, Nov. 6, that the city had been served that day with the lawsuit and had no comment.
The Stillwater man accused of stashing more than 130 pounds of pot in a St. Croix County storage unit could avoid prison, according to statements made last week in court. The attorney for Karl R. Heinrichs said Oct. 25 that a recommendation in a related Minnesota case calls for the 45-year-old to receive a combination of probation and jail. The St. Croix County Circuit Court hearing was originally set for a plea and sentencing, but that was called off after defense attorney Eric Johnson announced a surprise development in the Minnesota case.
PRESCOTT -- Police said a body recovered last week in Prescott was not the result of foul play. Prescott Interim Police Chief Rob Funk said an employee at Leo’s Landing (137 Front St.) discovered a woman’s body Thursday, Oct. 19 near the confluence of the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. According to a Pierce County Sheriff’s Office log, numerous deputies were called at 11:58 a.m. to assist at the scene.
Two Red Wing residents were injured Wednesday after the vehicle they were in struck a deer in Hager City. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said the crash, reported at 5:52 a.m. Oct. 18 at Highway 35 and 830th Street, left driver Pamela Stulc and passenger Selena Silva with undisclosed injuries. Stulc, 39, and Silva, 17, were taken by Red Wing ambulance to Mayo Health Systems-Red Wing.