Just another reason to stay away from casinos.

Family of boy assaulted by 9-year-old at Grand Casino Mille Lacs awarded $13.5M

  • Article by: M.L. SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 3, 2015 – 9:39 AM

A Hennepin County jury awarded $13.5 million to a Minnesota family who said their 3-year-old son was beaten and sexually assaulted in 2008 by another boy at a Kids Quest drop-in child care center at the Grand Casino Mille Lacs.

The Kids Quest center at the casino was shut down after the incident, according to the Plymouth-based company.

“It’s unbelievable what happened to him and his family after this, ” said Rich Ruohonen of TSR Injury Law, which represented the family who lives near Brainerd. “It’s tragic. …”When you have a young child who has been hurt this bad, he’s going to have this with him for the rest of his life.”

The jury decided the award on Friday after a two-week trial, the culmination of three-and-a-half years of litigation.

Beth LaBreche, who spoke on behalf of Kids Quest, said the company is considering an appeal and an ethics complaint against the family’s attorneys. “Although investigations at the time of the incident revealed no such extreme behavior could have happened, we immediately took responsibility and action based on the allegation,” the company said in a statement.

Company officials said employees on duty at the center didn’t follow procedure, including walking through play equipment systematically and frequently, and removing children for being overly aggressive or acting inappropriately. The employees were fired and Kids Quest at Grand Casino closed eight days after the incident.

According to the evidence that was presented to the jury, the boy was at the drop-in center in January 2008 when a 9-year-old-boy approached and acted like he was going to be his friend, Ruohonen said. During the next 90 minutes or more the boys were left unsupervised but security cameras captured parts of the assault, he said.

“The child was seriously strangled, beaten and raped, ” Ruohonen said. “The cameras captured [the 9-year-old] punching him in the face, throwing him to the ground, standing over him.”

At one point, the older boy is seen carrying the younger, 33-pound child to the top of a play gym area that included tunnels with slides and an enclosed area at the top, Ruohonen said. It was there where the two were alone for about 35 minutes, he said.

The younger boy, now 10, has permanent post-traumatic stress disorder, Ruohonen said.

“His brain is changed forever, ” he said. “If he sees a boy in a red shirt, he freaks out” because his abuser was wearing a red shirt, Ruohonen said. “He doesn’t like when people are behind him. He’s always hypervigilant in scanning a room and has to have his back to the wall.”

The family’s attorneys told the jury that the boy is now prone to violent outbursts and has serious difficulties regulating his emotions or reacting to everyday stimuli. Medications and therapy have helped but medical experts testified that the boy would never fully heal.

“Finally after seven years, [the boy] has received the justice he deserves, ” Ruohonen said.


Mary Lynn Smith • 612-673-4788


Happy retirement Gene.

  • VIA: Pinedale roundup

Long-serving deputy quits over sheriff’s new uniform rules

Modified: Tuesday, Feb 3rd, 2015
By: Ned Donovan

PINEDALE – Since taking office at the beginning of January, Sublette County Sheriff Stephen Haskell has introduced a more subtle change that changes a long held policy of the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office.

As part of his desire for consistent uniformity throughout the department, Haskell has banned the wearing of western attire by his deputies. This includes the quintessential cowboy hats and boots, as well as classic vests.

Previous members of the sheriff’s office have worn their hats proudly, as it used to be an image of lawmen in this part of the U.S. According to the public information officer, Sergeant Katherine Peterson, only one current sworn deputy wears it, Gene Bryson who is often seen running the county’s court security. Bryson is set to retire at the end of this month after being with the department for several decades, the reason being the new rules regarding uniform.

“Pinedale was just voted of the top western cities,” Deputy Bryson told the Roundup. “This is Wyoming and I’ve been in the Sheriff’s Office since 1975 and I have worn cowboy hats, cowboy boots and vest all that time. I don’t think that’s a big deal.”

The new rules came into force when Haskell took office on January 5 after he ordered new uniforms and patches for the department. Controversy arose after the order was placed before he officially became sheriff, something that the county commissioners criticized him for. Haskell told the Roundup that the clothes presented a safety hazard for officers.

“We have enough problems walking around in the snow and ice with our Vibram treads – I’d hate to see us try and walk in slippery cowboy boots,” Haskell said. “Have you ever stood on the side of the highway on a blustery Wyoming day and tried to keep a cowboy hat on your noggin? I’d rather my deputies were concerned with their safety and the safety of the public than trying to chase down a fly-away cowboy hat.”

While Bryson admits his hat did occasionally come off his head, he never lost one permanently,

“I’ve had it blow off,” he said. But I’ve never lost one either and I’ve been in some terrible blizzards in my life.”

Bryson had originally intended on staying with Haskell and his administration, the news rules forced his hand.

“I was going to stay here with Steve for a while, see what was going on and then when they told me I couldn’t wear my hats, boots and vest, I said I didn’t need a new uniform and I would retire,” Bryson said.

The office posted a status on their official Facebook page on Tuesday with comments on the new rules, which drew responses suggesting simple solutions such as more capable treads for the boots, or a strap for a hat.

“I would say the majority of folks around here prefer a western look for [law enforcement],” Terry Allen commented on the post.

Bryson has been in Sublette County for 28 years, and a law enforcement official for 41, and he’s seen numerous changes over the years.

“When I first came here, 50 percent of the sheriff’s office wore cowboy hats and boots,” he said. “Each deputy is an individual, that’s my opinion.”

Hopefully he’ll be in a cell with a 300 pound gay masochist.

St. Cloud jury finds man guilty in cop killing

By St. Paul Pioneer Press on Feb 2, 2015 at 11:43 p.m.

ST. CLOUD —  Brian Fitch Sr. has been convicted of killing officer Scott Patrick and will spend the rest of his life in prison.
The verdict was read shortly before 10 p.m. Monday after more than nine hours of deliberation by the jury. Fitch, 40, also was convicted of attempted murder of three other officers. He’ll be sentenced automatically to life in prison without possibility of release. After the verdicts were read, Fitch unleashed a profane outburst at the judge. Unfazed, she ordered him removed from the courtroom.Applause broke out in the courtroom after he was removed, followed by tears and hugs.Jurors — seven men and five women — got the case shortly after noon. They returned to the courtroom about 4:15 p.m. to view Brian Fitch Sr.’s gun, a weapon tied by a forensic examiner to the bullets that killed the Mendota Heights, Minn.,  police veteran.In a note to the judge, they said they wanted to see which side the weapon’s ejection port — from which spent cartridges are discarded — was on. The trial included testimony on cartridge casings recovered from Fitch’s car and the scene of his arrest.

After spending about two minutes looking at the gun, the jury returned to deliberations.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner of Forum News Service.

Happy Chris Kyle day.

Texas governor declares Feb. 2 ‘Chris Kyle Day’

Associated Press

NOW PLAYINGWhy Gov. Greg Abbott declared ‘Chris Kyle Day’

AUSTIN, Texas –  Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says he is declaring Feb. 2 as “Chris Kyle Day” in Texas to honor the late U.S. serviceman whose life is depicted in the blockbuster film “American Sniper.”

Abbott made the announcement Friday while speaking to a Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Austin. Hundreds of veterans in a hotel ballroom greeted the news with a standing ovation.

Kyle’s hometown was the Fort Worth suburb of Midlothian. He was 37 when he was killed in 2013 at a North Texas gun range. A former Marine charged in his death goes on trial in Stephenville next month.

Abbott said the state will commemorate Kyle’s life on Monday.

Kyle did four tours in Iraq and is considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history.

I’m thinking this fat tub of shit maybe ought to be worrying about men wearing Tridents way more than Clint Eastwood.



by JOHN NOLTE31 Jan 2015

If you’re wondering what self-respecting man would admit he’s still trembling over a “threat” from a man who is now 84 years-old, the answer is none. Proving he has no self-respect as a man, Michael Moore sniveled out a Facebook post Thursday recounting the time Clint Eastwood “said he would kill me.”

Ten years ago this past week, Clint Eastwood stood in front of the National Board of Review awards dinner and announced to me and to the crowd that he would “kill” me if I ever came to his house with my camera for an interview.

“I’ll kill you,” he declared.

The crowd laughed nervously. As for me, having just experienced a half-dozen assaults in the previous year from crazies upset at ‘Fahrenheit 9/11′ and my anti-war Oscar speech, plus the attempt by a right wing extremist to blow up my house (he was caught in time and went to prison), I was a bit stunned to hear Eastwood, out of the blue, make such a violent statement. But I instantly decided he was just trying to be funny, so I laughed the same nervous laugh everyone else did. Clint, though, didn’t seem to like all that laughter.

“I mean it,” he barked, and the audience grew more quiet. “I’ll shoot you.”

Moore, who hasn’t directed anything close to a hit in more than a decade, then goes on to question Eastwood’s mental faculties — yes, the same Clint Eastwood who at 84 is right now breaking countless box office records with “American Sniper,” a film that is already considered a classic and might just be remembered as his career masterpiece.

We should all be so crazy.

Michael Moore’s career all but ended before he turned 50. Eastwood’s career is as hot as it’s ever been.

Last week, Michael Moore hid behind cryptic tweets to declare American Sniper Chris Kyle  a coward. Now the crybaby hasbeen is attacking Eastwood as a mental case from behind his Facebook page.

Michael Moore used to at least be pretty good at pretending to be an everyman. As his heyday grows smaller and smaller in the rear-view, more and more he reveals himself to be a neurotic punk.

Next month Eastwood will attend the Academy Awards where his box office smash has been nominated for a Best Picture Oscar.

Meanwhile, in one of his half-dozen homes, multi-millionaire socialist Michael Moore will no doubt be thinking up schemes to use social media as a way to troll his way into some media attention.

Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC           

Because the former ballerina Chief in staff is more important than the rest of us…oh, plus, he’s the mayor of a cesspool.

Rahm Emanuel’s Motorcade Keeps Running Red Lights

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’ll pay the five traffic tickets his motorcade drivers have managed to rack up in just three months.

Emanuel defended the violations to reporters Thursday, saying, “Since there’s a tail car, there are some instances where they need to get through a light because they can’t get separated from the first car.”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's motorcade is seen in an intersection while a traffic light is red. (Image source: WLS-TV)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s motorcade is seen in an intersection while a traffic light is red. (Image source: WLS-TV)

But as WLS-TV reported, Illinois state law says that isn’t a valid reason for violating traffic rules. And even if it were, what’s evident from red light camera footage is that even the motorcade’s first vehicle failed to stop in at least two of the five violations.

One of the occurrences forced a man in a wheelchair at the corner of an intersection to wait for the motorcade to pass before crossing the street, even though the pedestrian had the right of way. In another instance, a senior citizen with the right of way had to wait until the two vehicles were through the intersection before crossing the street, WGN-TV reported.

All of this comes less than one year since the mayor railed against vehicles cruising through red lights.

“No one is above the law. Obey the law. Period. Full stop,” Emanuel said in May. On Thursday, he was less specific, saying, ”no one is above the law,” but left it at that.

He said red lights and red light cameras are there to protect drivers and pedestrians, but also said the city should be open to adjustments, such as adding a countdown to traffic signals that would tell drivers how much time they have before the lights change.

While Emanuel wasn’t driving either of the motorcade vehicles, he vowed to pay the tickets himself.

“I said I was gonna pay it, that’s what it means when you’re not above the law. That couldn’t be clearer,” he told reporters.

Emanuel was elected mayor of Chicago in 2011. Prior to that, he served as President Barack Obama’s first chief of staff.


Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter

Was there ever a full accounting of what she stole? We’ll never know, will we? I wonder where the rest went? Another sweet plea agreement.

Former Carlton County worker pleads guilty to stealing $1 million

By Tom Olsen Today at 12:26 p.m.

Joanne Marie Wappes

CARLTON — A former Carlton County transfer station employee has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $1 million from the county.

Joanne Marie Wappes, 63, entered the plea to a charge of theft by swindle Friday morning in State District Court in Carlton.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, Wappes would be required to pay $1 million in restitution to the county and will not be subject to any additional jail time. A second charge of embezzlement of public funds would be dropped.

Judge Robert Macaulay reserved acceptance of the plea agreement until a presentence investigation is completed.

Wappes worked as a clerk at the transfer station for nearly three decades, collecting money from customers at the gate.

Authorities in 2013 uncovered a scheme in which she allegedly created multiple sets of receipts and skimmed cash off of each day’s cash payments. The total value of the theft was estimated to exceed $1 million.

Wappes’ sentencing is scheduled for March 20.


Another sweet deal for another public employee. Why do all these felony convictions get wiped away with successful probation?

via Fergus Falls Journal

Former conservation officer charged gas to state for own use Published 10:15am Friday, January 30, 2015

Updated 12:15pm Friday, January 30, 2015

WILLMAR, Minn. — A former Department of Natural Resources conservation officer was sentenced Wednesday on a felony theft charge for allegedly charging more gasoline on his state-issued fleet card than what he used while on patrol.

James Clifford Steffen, 48, formerly of Sunburg, was sentenced to five years of probation Wednesday. As part of his probation, Steffen will be required to surrender his license to serve as a conservation officer, complete 200 hours of community service and pay more than $2,000 in fines and restitution.

Steffen received a stay of adjudication for the felony theft charge, which means that no conviction will appear on his record if he successfully completes probation.

According to the criminal complaint on the charges, the investigation was conducted by the Wright County Sheriff’s Office and found approximately 435 gallons of fuel was charged to the account but not used for state purposes.

An investigation by the DNR first began when a citizen reported suspicious purchases of gasoline by Steffen at a Sunburg gas station.


Unfortunately, we’ll likely not see any increase here in the plea bargain capital of the state.

Federal prosecutions in Minnesota increase in 2014

By Randy Furst, Minneapolis Star Tribune Today at 11:22 a.m.

The talk around the U.S. Courthouse in Minneapolis has been that more criminal cases are showing up in federal courtrooms since Andy Luger was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for Minnesota in mid-February last year.

Overall indictments are up from 183 in 2013 to 303 in 2014, an increase of 66 percent. In addition, more defendants are being indicted, rising from 235 in 2013 to 495 in 2014, a 110 percent jump.

The U.S. attorney’s office declined to discuss the increases, but Luger has repeatedly and publicly stated that he has an aggressive law enforcement style.

He has vowed to stop the flood of heroin into Minnesota and made visits to county attorneys around the state, where he has encouraged them to refer drug cases to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Asked why he believed that the federal prosecution numbers rose, Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said Tuesday that, “leadership starts at the top.” He said “Luger has worked hard to be our partner.”

He said it helped that Luger was a former assistant U.S. attorney (in both Brooklyn and in Minneapolis).

Stanek said another reason is that Luger is “paying attention to local law enforcement to reduce the incidence of violent crime in our community, and that includes narcotics, gangs and countering violent extremism.”

He said that local law enforcement was pleased with the new cooperative efforts with Luger’s office and he was “proud to be his partner.”

Other data obtained by the Star Tribune shows that federal narcotics indictments jumped from 28 to 63 from 2013 to 2014, narcotics defendants rose from 44 to 166 and the number of heroin defendants climbed from 2 to 50 — a 2,400 percent increase in one year.

The number of federal defendants in firearms and Hobbs Act cases, which cover robbery and extortion charges, increased from 44 to 79.


Alternate title: Crybabies in the White House wet themselves over Congress doing something.

Administration Official Criticizes Israeli Ambassador Over Netanyahu Visit


The outrage the episode has incited within President Obama’s inner circle became clear in unusually sharp criticism by a senior administration official who said that the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, who helped orchestrate the invitation, had repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States.

The official who made the comments to The New York Times would not be named, and the White House declined to comment. The remarks were the latest fallout after Mr. Dermer, without the White House’s knowledge, worked with House Speaker John A. Boehner to arrange the speech, which is scheduled for March.


Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. He said he did not intend to anger the White House over the speech. CreditJoshua Roberts/Reuters 

Such officially authorized criticisms of diplomats from major allies are unusual.

In a telephone interview late Wednesday, Mr. Dermer said, “I have no regrets whatsoever that I have acted in a way to advance my country’s interests.” He said he never meant to slight the White House by keeping the confidence of the House speaker, who had suggested the invitation. He said he left it to Mr. Boehner to notify Mr. Obama’s team.

“My understanding was that it was the speaker’s prerogative to do, and that he would be the one to inform the administration,” Mr. Dermer said. “The prime minister feels very strongly that he has to speak on this issue. That’s why he accepted the invitation, not to wade into your political debate or make this a partisan issue, and not to be disrespectful to the president.”

Mr. Dermer, an American-born former Republican political operative who is so close to Mr. Netanyahu that he is often called “Bibi’s brain,” became Israel’s envoy to the United States in 2013. White House officials were at first wary that Mr. Dermer would politicize relations between the United States and Israel, but over time cultivated a working relationship with him after concluding that there were advantages in his closeness to Mr. Netanyahu.

The last week has borne out their initial concerns.

Mr. Dermer relayed the invitation to Mr. Netanyahu from Mr. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, without notifying top officials in Washington or Jerusalem. American and Israeli officials said that Mr. Dermer, in the course of a lengthy meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry just before Mr. Netanyahu’s speech was announced, never mentioned it.

In response, the White House has called the invitation a breach of diplomatic protocol and announced that Mr. Obama would not meet with Mr. Netanyahu when he visits. Administration officials maintained that the decision to avoid Mr. Netanyahu was consistent with a policy of not meeting with world leaders close to their elections — Israel’s is two weeks after the speech — to avoid the appearance of influence. But that policy has been ignored in the past. On Capitol Hill, Democrats have called the invitation a political stunt to undercut the president. It has also inserted Mr. Netanyahu into the middle of a dispute between Mr. Obama and congressional Republicans over new Iran sanctions, which the president opposes until international negotiations to prevent Tehran from acquiring a nuclear weapon play out.

For those who have tracked Mr. Dermer’s rise — from his days as a young operative working under Republican strategist Frank Luntz during the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress to his ascent to Mr. Netanyahu’s inner circle — the maneuvering over the speech appears to be in character.

“He’s a political operative, he’s not really an ambassador,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel. “What he did was totally unacceptable from a standpoint of diplomacy. To think about going behind the back of a friendly country’s administration and working out this kind of arrangement with the parliament or the Congress — it’s unheard-of.”

Mr. Kurtzer said while it was unlikely the Obama administration would take the extraordinary step of declaring Mr. Dermer “persona non grata” — the official method for a foreign diplomat to be ousted from a country — it could request that Mr. Dermer be reprimanded or removed.

“He has soiled his pad; who’s he going to work with?” Mr. Kurtzer said.

Mr. Dermer’s allies counter that he has been effective at precisely the job he holds: relentlessly representing Israel’s interests in the United States, although with less diplomatic finesse than his predecessors.

“He’s more direct than they are, he’s less judicious with his words, but he makes it up with principle,” said Mr. Luntz, who taught Mr. Dermer at the University of Pennsylvania before hiring him in 1993. “He’s got tremendous courage and he’s prepared to take a principled risk. I don’t know anyone who is as focused on a specific goal and is prepared to walk through brick walls to get there.”

Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said Mr. Dermer had been “extremely strong and successful” at his most important tasks, which are to represent Israel’s interests and defend Mr. Netanyahu’s prerogatives at a critical time for Israel’s security.

“This administration has repeatedly sought to both undermine and embarrass this prime minister, and the same Democrats who now profess to be so outraged by this have been notably silent,” Mr. Brooks said. “When the dust settles on this — and the dust will settle — I think that he’ll continue to be effective on the range of issues that are important to Israel’s security.”

Critics argued that Mr. Dermer’s actions had harmed the relationship between the United States and Israel in lasting ways. “To be an ambassador, you need to be a representative of your country to the entirety of the other country, and that has not been his role to date,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, a Democratic-aligned pro-Israel group.

Jodi Rudoren contributed reporting from Jerusalem.