Sunday, March 29, 2009

Johannsen must give up badge

SUTHERLAND—David Andrew Johannsen, the former Sutherland police chief accused of stealing hogs on six occasions over a two-year period, avoided jail time but will have to pay more than $6,300 in fines and restitution as well as surrender his certification as a law enforcement officer.

Johannsen, 45, was sentenced Monday morning in O'Brien County District Court in Primghar.

He had been arrested on July 27, 2008, on charges of second-degree theft, conspiracy and third-degree theft. The second-degree theft and conspiracy charges are both felonies.

In a written arraignment on Oct. 3, Johannsen pleaded not guilty to all three charges. After a November continuation, he was supposed to stand trial for the crimes on Feb. 3.

However, Johannsen gave a written guilty plea to the O'Brien County Attorney's Office on Dec. 29 for one count of third-degree theft as a plea bargain.

On Monday, District Judge Patrick Carr ordered Johannsen to pay $5,215.55 in restitution to Liberty Products Inc. of Paullina for the hogs stolen from the business. Johannsen also was ordered to pay a $625 fine, $325 in surcharges and $135 in court costs.

If the restitution and fees are paid by March 1, 2010, a 60-day jail sentence will be waived.

As part of the sentencing, Johannsen also is required to surrender his certification as a peace officer in the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy within 30 days.

The charge of conspiracy was dismissed, as was a charge of third-degree theft filed against Johannsen for allegedly defrauding Northwest Rural Electric Cooperative in Orange City $311.84 for an 85-gallon water heater in August 2007.

Johannsen's appeal bond is fixed at $2,000.

O'Brien County attorney Bruce Green was satisfied with Johannsen's sentencing.

"Our primary objective from a law enforcement standpoint was to make sure he wasn't going to be able to serve as a peace officer in the state of Iowa," Green said.

The Sutherland City Council had accepted a letter of resignation as police chief from Johannsen at its March 2 meeting.

Prior to his resignation as Sutherland police chief, Johannsen had been on unpaid leave of absence since being arrested following a 2007 investigation of stolen hogs and other property by the O'Brien County Sheriff's Department.

According to the charges, Johannsen and two co-workers at Liberty Products used a Liberty Products trailer and Johannsen's pickup to transport a total of 33 hogs to Lynch Livestock in Primghar on six different occasions from July 4, 2004, through July 20, 2006.

Lynch Livestock wrote Johannsen six checks totaling $7,015.55 for the hogs. The money then was cashed by Johannsen and split among the three.

After Johannsen's arrest and subsequent unpaid leave of absence from the Sutherland police force, Nick Mazurek has served as the lone police officer in the city. A former Marcus police officer has been covering two eight-hour shifts each week and a Cherokee County reserve has provided some law enforcement on occasion.

Sutherland officials have looked into the possibility of sharing a part-time police officer with Paullina, but as the city is in need of another full-time officer, the Sutherland City Council decided the community could not afford to have two full-time officers plus a part-time officer.

At the March 2 meeting, the council members decided to seek another full-time officer in earnest and has advertised for the position. The application deadline was Friday, March 27, and city officials hope to have the position filled soon.

The city is looking for an officer who is Iowa Law Enforcement Academy certified but would hire someone who would be willing to get certified within the first year.

This article appeared in the March 28, 2009 edition of The N'West Iowa REVIEW.

No comments:

Post a Comment