- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2017

PLATTE, S.D. (AP) - A former South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper who confessed to taking tens of thousands of dollars in evidence money has stepped down as a school board president.

Brian Biehl, 48, announced his intent to step down during a Platte-Geddes School Board meeting Monday. Superintendent Joel Baily said the board accepted Biehl’s decision, appointing Steve Spawn as the new president, the Daily Republic (https://bit.ly/2lLUGjY ) reported.

The former trooper pleaded guilty last week to grand theft by law enforcement by keeping nearly $70,000 confiscated from drug searches during his time with the patrol. He is expected to be sentenced in March.

Biehl is hoping to stay on the school board as a member, but some residents expressed wanting him to leave the board entirely.

The maximum penalty for the theft charge is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine, but resident Tim Whalen said Biehl could still become ineligible to be a board member even if he avoids prison. Whalen, an attorney based in Lake Andes, said he has already contacted the state’s attorney to remove Biehl if necessary.

“Those wheels are already turning, so it’s inevitable that you’re going to be removed from the board. It’s just a matter of when,” Whalen said. “Nothing good comes from fighting this battle.”

Resident Monte Wagner said while he considers Biehl a friend, he needs to step down.

“We’ve got too many black eyes in our community as it sits right now,” Wagner said. “We need good things to happen, and having him on there is not good right now.”


Information from: The Daily Republic, https://www.mitchellrepublic.com

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