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Minnesota roundup: Burglars swipe $30K in tools from St. Paul school's auto shop, principal's car

ST. PAUL—When Matt Lijewski pulled up to the Central High School Service Station in St. Paul on Sunday morning and saw the garage door was open, it crossed his mind that another staff member could be test driving a car.

Instead, he found the school's auto repair shop ransacked.

Thieves dumped out trash from the garbage cans and used those cans to carry out hundreds of tools worth about $30,000. They also stole Principal Mary Mackbee's 1998 Toyota Camry, which was at the shop to be repaired, plus about $2,000 of the shop's cash from a locked drawer.

"The terrible thing about it is they took the best education tools away from kids," said Lijewski, the school's automotive instructor who runs the repair shop. "We do some book learning, but most of the time we're out in the shop fixing cars, and kids really get a lot out of the hands-on part of my class, which is unfortunate that they took so many of their tools to do that with."


Minnesota Senate controller ousted after charged with theft in a previous job

ST. PAUL—The Minnesota Senate terminated the employment of its controller Wednesday morning, a day after she was charged with "theft by swindle" for actions in a previous job.

"These charges were not related to her employment at the Senate," Cal Ludeman, the secretary of the Senate, said in a statement.

The Hennepin County charges allege Trudi Ruzich, who started work in the Senate four months ago, wrote herself at least $10,000 worth of checks between May and June of last year when working with a medical clinic.

Ludeman said the Senate checked references and did a background check on Ruzich before hiring her. She passed those since the charges were not filed until Tuesday.

Starting Wednesday morning, the Senate worked with state officials to do a forensic analysis of the budget and personal data to which Ruzich had access. As of Wednesday evening, the team found nothing untoward, Ludeman said.

As secretary of the senate, Ludeman got to know Ruzich as she handled Senate business.

Ruzich could not be reached for comment.


2 St. Paul men charged with murder after fatal assault on Green Line platform last September

ST. PAUL—Two young men have been charged with murder after a September assault at a St. Paul light-rail station caused a 68-year-old man to die of a blood clot caused by the attack, charges say.

Shawn Delaine Bellazan Jr., 19, and Cavis Deandre Adams, 21, both of St. Paul, were charged via warrant Wednesday with one count of second-degree unintentional murder as well as one count of aggravated robbery in the man's death, according to criminal complaints filed against them in Ramsey County District Court.

Police responded to the Robert Street Green Line station at 9:45 a.m. Sept. 8 and found the man lying unconscious. Witnesses told officers they saw two men fleeing from the area, the charges say.

Surveillance video captured an altercation that broke out on the platform in the moments leading up to the police call.

In it, the victim, identified as Gebremedhin A. Tela, is seen approaching Bellazan and Adams and apparently asking them to make change for him, the criminal complaint says.


Man charged after allegedly taking impounded vehicle from lot

MOORHEAD, Minn. — A man who claims his pickup truck was unlawfully seized and searched has been charged in Clay County District Court with one count of theft after being accused of taking the truck out of a Moorhead impound lot.

Matthew K. Krebs, 34, whose address in court papers is listed as Breckenridge, is accused in court documents of taking a pickup truck from Ed's Towing in Moorhead on March 10 without the consent of someone "having a superior right of possession."

The truck was being stored in an impound building at Ed's Towing in connection with an incident that occurred on Feb. 25 in Dilworth.

In that incident, Kreb's leased 2014 Dodge pickup truck was impounded after a Dilworth police officer on patrol came upon Krebs at a storage garage and suspected Kreb of concealing something illegal in the truck.

Court documents filed with the theft charge state Krebs went to the impound lot in Moorhead on March 10 and asked to be allowed to remove personal items from his truck.

After consulting with Dilworth police, a person at the towing site allowed Krebs to retrieve some items. Permission to do that was granted, but as the impound lot attendant was returning to her office Krebs got into the impounded truck and accelerated backwards onto the street, where he then accelerated forward and down the street, screeching his tires in the process, court documents say.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Krebs in connection with taking the truck.


Weather service says Faribault County had earliest tornado

ST. PAUL—The Minnesota weather record has been corrected to show that the title for the earliest tornado ever recorded in the state goes to a tiny twister that struck March 6 in Faribault County.

The National Weather Service says a recent damage survey confirmed that a weak EF-1 tornado developed northwest of Bricelyn and traveled about 10 miles before lifting west of the Freeborn County line in southern Minnesota.

The tornado snapped off power poles and caused damage to trees and buildings, including at a campground on Rice Lake, near Wells.

The weather service previously confirmed two other EF-1 tornadoes struck between 5:30 and 6 p.m. March 6 in Freeborn and Sherburne counties during an outbreak of unseasonable severe weather.

But the Faribault County tornado was on the ground from 5:04 to 5:15 p.m., making it the new record holder for the earliest in the year a tornado has occurred in Minnesota.

No one was injured by the tornadoes, which packed peak winds of 90-110 mph.

The weather service said it did not receive any reports of damage until several days after the Faribault County tornado occurred and subsequent heavy snow across the area did not allow for a damage survey to be undertaken for another few days.

Until the March 6 outbreak, the earliest tornado on record was a 1968 twister that struck March 18 near Truman, also in southern Minnesota.


Minnesota boosts funding to fight sex trafficking

ST. PAUL—Minnesota law enforcement agencies are getting an increase in funding this year for sex trafficking investigations.

The state's Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs announced this week that eight grants totaling almost $800,000 will go toward police training or new projects and positions. "Taking advantage of youth and adults to use them for sex should concern every Minnesotan," Raeone Magnuson, the office's director, said in a statement. "Providing resources and training to law enforcement enables them to strategically investigate sex trafficking cases to recover the highest-risk victims, as well as target the traffickers in ways they have not been able to do in the past."

Sex trafficking is a major concern for Minnesota law enforcement. In 2016, 314 youth and adult trafficking victims, or at-risk- juveniles of being trafficked, were referred to services across the state.

The grants will go to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Department of Health, for a sex trafficking investigations conference; Duluth police and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, each for a sex trafficking investigator; Minneapolis police, for an analyst and information sharing portal; New Ulm police, for investigations support; St. Paul police, for a criminal analyst; and the Washington County Attorney's Office, for a program coordinator and investigation support.