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Dave Olson, Published November 11 2010

Moorhead fire chief’s case in hands of prosecutor

Investigative reports relating to Moorhead Fire Chief Joel Hewitt have been completed and forwarded to the Becker County Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether to file charges, Clay County Attorney Brian Melton said Wednesday.

Melton said the matter was referred to Becker County to avoid potential conflicts of interest with his office.

He said he could not speak about specifics of the investigation, other than to say he forwarded investigative reports to Becker County about two weeks ago.

Hewitt has been on paid administrative leave since August, when city officials said an administrative investigation and a police investigation had been launched to look into allegations of wrongdoing.

Hewitt has remained silent about the matter, but an attorney representing him said in August Hewitt was questioned by police about allegations made by a woman who said the fire chief disclosed information about a double homicide investigation to someone he shouldn’t have.

The attorney, Trevor Oliver, said Hewitt couldn’t have done something like that because he had no crime-scene information to share.

The double homicide in question likely involves the deaths of John Cadotte and Megan Londo, whose bodies were found after firefighters arrived at a suspected arson fire in Moorhead on Feb. 19.

Becker County Attorney Michael Fritz declined to answer questions Wednesday about whether his office is reviewing a case for Clay County.

Tracy Alan Zornes of Naytahwaush, Minn., faces murder and other charges in Clay County District Court in connection with the deaths in Moorhead.

Zornes is being held in Becker County, where he faces a burglary charge from 2007.

Melton said Zornes will be transferred to the Clay County Jail once the Becker County charge is resolved.

Court officials said a pretrial hearing in Zornes’ burglary case is set for late December.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555