Since it involved stolen property crossing state lines, I have to wonder why the Feds aren’t involved. Sounds like racketeering, doesn’t it? Public officials should be held to a higher standard, right?
Inver Grove Heights police chief resigns, after accusations of tipoff
By NICK FERRARO | firstname.lastname@example.org
PUBLISHED: December 9, 2016 at 5:29 pm | UPDATED: December 9, 2016 at 8:52 pm
Larry Stanger, the Inver Grove Heights police chief who has been on paid leave since April while being investigated for alleged wrongdoing, will resign as part of a separation agreement reached between him and the city.
Stanger was accused of tipping off the owner of a Prescott, Wis., auto-detailing business that the business would be searched for stolen construction vehicles.
In August, Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar declined to charge Stanger with public corruption or violating data privacy laws, saying at the time that his office was not able to “connect the dots between what was alleged and the police chief to prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt.”
But whether Stanger violated any Inver Grove Heights city policies, procedures or codes was the focus of an investigation by Quinlivan & Hughes, a law firm the city hired in September.
The investigation concluded at the end of November, but city officials have yet to release a report, citing a state law that keeps it private until discipline is imposed or a resignation. The city council discussed the report in a closed meeting Nov. 28.
Neither Stanger nor his attorney returned calls Friday for comment.
Late last year, the Inver Grove Heights and Prescott police departments started working together on the theft case after surveillance and GPS tracking of the stolen vehicles led Inver Grove Heights investigators to the Wisconsin town.
After a search warrant was executed at the Prescott auto-detailing shop, the business’ owner told investigators that Stanger informed him the search was coming. The search did not turn up stolen property.
The business owner initially said he learned about the raid beforehand from Stanger, but when pressed by Scott County investigators he said the tip came through his son, who had talked to Stanger’s son, who had spoken with his father.
Stanger’s son and the business owner’s son are friends.
Scott County’s investigation included interviews with three Inver Grove Heights detectives, all of whom said the police chief regularly asked them for updates in the theft case — and that it was unusual for him to do so.
In a June interview with a Scott County detective, Stanger denied sharing any information about the theft case with his son. According to an investigation report, the police chief said he did ask his son “very pointed” questions about the business owner, such as, “Have you ever been at his shop in Prescott? … Have you ever bought any parts, auto parts?”
Stanger added, “Again, he’s a smart kid. He’s gonna know that, why would my dad ask me this stuff? But he can draw his own conclusions. He’s an adult.”
LEAVE WILL CONTINUE
Stanger, who lives in Cottage Grove, has been with the Inver Grove Heights police department since 1989 and has been its chief since January 2012. His salary this year is $128,000.
In his absence, Lt. Sean Folmar has been acting police chief.
Under terms of the agreement, Stanger’s resignation will become effective April 30. He will remain on paid leave through Jan. 2 and then use his accrued paid vacation time and personal leave through April 30. The city will also pay for his health care coverage through April 30.
The agreement includes a 15-day period during which Stanger or the city can rescind it.
Stanger is the second Dakota County police chief to resign this month. Mendota Heights Police Chief Mike Aschenbrener resigned on Tuesday, after the controversial firing of a longtime sergeant and the release of a consultant’s report that concluded the department has a culture of “divisiveness.”