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Published May 25 2012

Attorney complaint delays sentencing in McDonald’s robbery thwarted by hot grease

FARGO – A Duluth, Minn., man who pleaded guilty in March to trying to rob a McDonald’s restaurant here had his sentencing delayed Friday after he filed a complaint against his attorney with the state disciplinary board.

Andrew Harland Salus was burned by hot grease or cooking oil during a struggle with two McDonald’s employees who thwarted his Nov. 13 robbery attempt, police said.

Salus, 31, pleaded guilty on March 26 and was set for sentencing on Friday. But earlier this month his court-appointed attorney, Laura Reynolds, was notified Salus had filed a complaint against her with the North Dakota Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board because he was dissatisfied with her representation, court records show.

Reynolds’ request to withdraw as Salus’ counsel was granted on Monday. In an affidavit supporting her motion to withdraw, she noted she had met with Salus no fewer than seven times at the Cass County Jail and had regular telephone contact with him. She wrote that she believes Salus “has been an active participant in his defense and I have zealously advocated for him.”

The new attorney listed for Salus in court records, Brent C. Johnson, said Friday he wasn’t aware he had been appointed to the case.

Assistant State’s Attorney Reid Brady said Salus hasn’t withdrawn his guilty plea, and he expects the case will move forward to sentencing.

“We haven’t heard anything otherwise,” he said.

The robbery charge against Salus alleges he entered the McDonald’s at 1001 38th St. S., displayed a handgun, demanded money and hit an employee in the head with the handgun. The scuffle with employees was still going on when police officers arrived.

Court records show the U.S. Marshals Service has a federal detainer on Salus for a probation violation. There is also a Minnesota district court hold on him out of St. Louis County.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528