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Minn. men accused in Prescott robbery case

A trio of Minnesota men are accused in a rowdy night that allegedly led to a burglary and a robbery at a Prescott apartment.

One man booted down the door of an apartment complex before he and others entered the building and wrestled a man's cellphone away, according to charges filed last week in Pierce County Circuit Court. The men allegedly fled the area in a boat to Hastings, where one suspect reportedly slugged another in the face.

Prosecutors on Aug. 9 charged St. Paul Park residents Joshawa R. Sweeney, 27, and Dustin R. Bestler, 33, along with Hastings resident Michael K. Janke, 32, with one count each of felony robbery with use of force, felony victim intimidation and misdemeanor criminal trespassing. All three men are scheduled to make their first court appearances Sept. 25.

According to a criminal complaint:

Prescott police were called at 2:43 a.m. to 110 Orange St. for a report of a man who had kicked in the door at a woman's apartment.

Police spoke with the woman who said the incident occurred after she and her boyfriend had been out in downtown Prescott and first witnessed three men harassing customers at the Broad Street Bar. The scene prompted the couple to leave for neighboring Scab's Bar, which the three men also entered after being kicked out of Broad Street.

The men became problematic at Scab's as well, so the couple began walking to their Orange Street apartment. The woman told police one of the men from the group was walking behind them on the way.

She told police her boyfriend was trying to unlock their apartment door when they heard a pounding on a door at the complex's main entrance. The woman approached the door and began opening it to get a look at who was pounding.

She said that's when the man who had been walking behind them kicked open the door and pushed his way into the vestibule area where the boyfriend was at the apartment door.

The boyfriend told the man he was going to call police — at which point two other men emerged, one allegedly telling the others, "Grab his phone so he can't call the cops," the complaint states.

The woman's boyfriend provided the same account and both victims gave police descriptions of the suspects. Police went to the Broad Street Bar, where the name "Dustin" came up in reference to the trio of rowdy patrons from earlier in the night.

Hours later, officers went to Scab's Bar and talked to a bartender who said the trio had been kicked out of the bar because they were trying to pick fights. The name Dustin again came up and led one officer to suspect the reference was to Dustin Bestler. Video surveillance at Scab's confirmed the officer's suspicion on Bestler; police also identified Sweeney and Janke as the other two in the group.

Prescott police checked with Cottage Grove officers for a booking photo of Bestler, a request that led to the revelation that Bestler had been arrested that same night in Hastings on suspicion of third- and fifth-degree assault.

Hastings police happened to be on the scene of a fatal crash at about 3:30 a.m. May 6 near King's Cove when a man — later identified as Sweeney — came out of the marina with a broken jaw. Hastings police later arrested Bestler after learning he delivered the blow.

In an interview with police, Bestler admitted to being in Prescott earlier in the night with Janke and Sweeney. He told police Sweeney kicked down a door there, so they left Prescott on Bestler's boat for King's Cove.

Bestler told police that's where he became upset with Sweeney and punched him.

Of the incident at the apartment, Bestler later told Prescott police that he wasn't there, but was alerted to it by another man named Tony. Bestler told the officer that "Tony" admitted to taking the man's phone to keep him from calling police.

Bestler later admitted to being at the apartment, but denied going inside or taking a phone. The officer later concluded Bestler concocted the Tony character "to divert attention from himself."

The victims were later shown photo lineups featuring Bestler, Sweeney and Janke. Both people said they were certain the photo of Bestler was the "ringleader" who commanded the other two to get the phone.

The victims also identified photos of Sweeney and Janke, though with lesser degrees of certainty.

Police attempted to interview Sweeney, though he refused to talk after requesting a lawyer. Efforts by police to reach Janke by phone were not successful.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is a regional/enterprise reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage includes St. Croix County government, higher education and state politics in Wisconsin. 

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