- Associated Press - Thursday, May 5, 2016

STURGIS, S.D. (AP) - The Meade County Commission has voted to suspend a member who’s facing criminal charges in a private job contract dispute.

Alan Aker’s fellow commissioners made the decision in a special meeting Tuesday. Commission Chairman Galen Niederwerder said the group is following state law and that once the legal matter is settled “we will move forward.”

Aker, 52, of Piedmont, who has served on the County Commission since 2009, will not receive any pay or benefits while suspended. He did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment on Thursday.

A grand jury indicted Aker in April on a felony charge of intentional damage to property and a misdemeanor count of trespassing. Authorities allege that Aker, who runs a wood home products company, entered a client’s property in Deadwood last summer, sawed off part of a deck railing and took it with him.

Aker maintains he did nothing wrong because he hadn’t been fully paid for the job.

“When all the facts are known, they will demonstrate that I am innocent of this accusation,” he said in an earlier statement.

The property owner maintains the project was incomplete and the work unacceptable. William Hegg has withheld $2,500 of the total payment of about $11,500.

Aker is due in state court in Deadwood May 16. The most serious charge against him carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison.

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