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Associated Press, Published August 09 2012

Grafton workers face charges

GRAFTON, N. D. — Despite getting their jobs back, two Grafton, N.D., city employees still face trial on felony charges in state district court here for allegedly stealing city property.

Russell Geddes and Kelly Laskowske appeared Wednesday in court, waived their right to a preliminary hearing and were arraigned on the Class B felony charge of conspiracy to commit theft, pleading not guilty.

The two, along with fellow city worker, Brady Strom and their boss, Brent McMillan, superintendent of the city’s electric utilities department, were charged in June with stealing city property. McMillan is charged with a Class B felony of misapplication of entrusted property for allegedly taking and reselling city property, including copper wire and electric transformers.

Strom and McMillan also were arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty. A deadline for pretrial motions was set for late September by state District Judge Laurie Fontaine.

The four men were dismissed from their jobs in June, but last week the City Council re-instated Laskowske and Geddes, and their attorneys said the move might affect the criminal charges against them.

But Walsh County State’s Attorney Barbara Whelan said Wednesday the City Council action has no bearing on her plans to prosecute all four men.

A class B felony carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; a Class C felony has a maximum of five years.

Call Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1237.