- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Minnesota’s new US attorney plans new initiatives

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota’s new chief federal prosecutor said Wednesday he’s launching initiatives to combat human trafficking, heroin, fraud, violent crime and identity theft, and he’s already reaching out to local authorities statewide for their ideas.

It’s an ambitious agenda for U.S. Attorney Andy Luger, who was sworn in Feb. 14. He filled a post last held by B. Todd Jones, who juggled dual roles for two years as U.S. attorney in Minneapolis and acting head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Washington, until the Senate finally confirmed him as director last July. Jones’ critics, including a former head of the Minneapolis FBI office, complained that he was reluctant to prosecute violent gang, drug and gun crimes, leaving the problems to local authorities to solve - a charge Jones’ supporters disputed.

Luger had only praise for Jones. “He was asked to do two very difficult jobs at the same time, and he did them extremely well,” he said.

But Luger said in an interview with The Associated Press that he prepared himself to assume the job by seeking out the opinions of law enforcement leaders from across Minnesota, and a wide variety of other people, who helped inform his vision for the office.

Luger, 54, served as an assistant U.S. attorney in New York and Minnesota from 1989 to 1995 before going into private practice. He said his plan for a renewed emphasis on human trafficking is one initiative that came from his dialogue with law enforcement.


Twin Cities Archbishop appears in civil suit

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - An attorney says Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt abruptly ended a court deposition about his handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Attorney Jeff Anderson told Minnesota Public Radio News (https://bit.ly/1mANVeE) the four-hour hearing ended heatedly Wednesday after Anderson asked the archbishop to turn over files of offending priests to law enforcement.

Anderson represents a man who says he was sexually abused by the Rev. Thomas Adamson in the 1970s.

It was the first time Nienstedt has had to answer questions under oath regarding the sexual abuse of children by priests since he became archbishop six years ago. He was not asked about the man who sued the church or about Adamson.

An archdiocese statement said Nienstedt repeatedly stated children’s safety is the archdiocese’s highest priority.


Company fined for ballpark worker’s death

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health is fining a company nearly $52,000 for violations following an accident that killed a demolition worker on a new St. Paul Saints ballpark.

Johnny Valek, 61, of Plymouth, was killed in September when a concrete section collapsed on the cab of his backhoe. It was part of a building being torn down to make way for the new park.

Minnesota OSHA found three serious violations, and levied a $51,650 fine against the company the man worked for, Rachel Contracting Inc., which is based in St. Michael, Minn., the Pioneer Press reported (https://bit.ly/1pOL2Ja).

According to the federal OSHA website, the company contested the citations last month. A company representative didn’t immediately return a call for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Ryan Cos. is leading construction of the ballpark, and Rachel Contracting is the subcontractor where Valek worked. OSHA did not find violations involving Ryan Cos. and closed its investigation in February, according to the records on the federal site.


Man pleads guilty in slaying of church volunteer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A 19-year-old Minnesota man changed his mind during his trial on Wednesday and decided to plead guilty to killing a friend’s grandmother.

Testimony in the trial of Brok Junkermeier was set to resume Wednesday afternoon, but instead he ended up pleading guilty to first-degree premeditated murder, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported (https://strib.mn/PjOrmmhttps://strib.mn/PjOrmm ).

The Kandiyohi County jury had been shown Junkermeier’s taped confession to killing 79-year-old church volunteer Lila Warwick after forcing her to write him a check for $1,500 last July near Willmar.

Jurors saw Junkermeier use his own body to show where he stabbed Warwick “six, seven times” after choking her and breaking her neck.

“One, two, three, four,” Junkermeier said, hitting points on his chest and abdomen.

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