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Twin Cites tennis coach charged with criminal sexual conduct

Twin Cites tennis coach charged with criminal sexual conduct

By Brittany Falkers


            A Twin Cities tennis coach was charged with criminal sexual conduct after a 14-year-old girl taking lessons form him complained that he slapped her buttocks and spoke to her inappropriately, according to charges filed Friday, USA Today said.

            Roberto DeFreitas, 47, of St. Paul, was charged with criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree, a felony, in Hennepin County District Court, according to the Star Tribune.

            A Minneapolis police officer in the sex crimes unit was contacted by the father of the girl Dec. 3 about possible inappropriate conduct by DeFreitas, the Star Tribune said.

            The girl told police she is enrolled in tennis lessons at Fred Wells Tennis and Education Center, also known as the Fort Snelling Tennis and Learning Center in Minneapolis, and that last moth she arrived early for a scheduled group tennis lesson when DeFreitas invited her into his office.  When he was alone with her, he began talking about his girlfriend and how she was a "Freak," sends "nasty" photos of herself to him and talks "Dirty," according to the charges.  He asked the girl if she did the same things with her boyfriend, and she told him no, the Star Tribune said.

            The girl also told police that on Nov. 21 she was walking through a tunnel at the Tennis Center when DeFreitas slapped her on the buttocks over the shorts she was wearing and commented on her rear end.  When she told him to stop, he laughed and asked her "why?" charges said, according to the Star Tribune.

2 dead, 1 injured in Stillwater shooting

2 dead, 1 injured in Stillwater shooting

By Brittany Falkers


            Two people are dead in an officer-involved shooting at a Stillwater apartment complex, police told Associated Press reporters. 

            The building's caretaker, 62, was wounded in the abdomen.  She was conscious and able to indicate that she had been shot by her husband, according to the Star Tribune. 

            Kathleen Gavegnano found her neighbor Friday afternoon.  "She said, 'If he dies, I want to dies,'" Gavegnano told the Star Tribune.  

            The woman's husband, also 62, was shot and killed by a Stillwater police officer after he refused to put down his gun and fired at the officers, officials told the Star Tribune.

            The wife was pronounced dead at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.  Another woman was taken to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater with minor injuries, according to Associated Press reporters.

            Neighbors identified the couple as Gertrude (Trudy) and Gerald Propps.  The second woman was the adult daughter of one of the Proppses, neighbors said, adding that Gerald Propps had been battling a number of illnesses recently, the Star Tribune said.

            The incident happened at the Victoria Villa apartments, 1451 S. Greeley St.  It began about 4:30 p.m.  Washington County dispatcher received a 911 call from the 62-year-old woman because her husband needed medical care, Stillwater police Sgt. Jeff Stender told the Star Tribune.  While the woman was on the phone with the police, the dispatcher heard gunshots, and the woman was shot he added.

            One officer "arrived before everyone else and responded how he's been trained," Stender told the Star Tribune.

            The officer "did enter the apartment under fire," he added, and was forced to shoot after the man refused the officer's order to drop his weapon.  The officer is a 15-year, full-time veteran of the force and was put on standard administrative leave, the Star Tribune said.

Winter is here

Winter is here

By Brittany Falkers

                Minnesota's first major snow storm of the holiday season has moved eastward away from the Great Lakes and was diminishing Wednesday across Minnesota, the Star Tribune said.

                The greatest amount of snow fell Tuesday giving way to wind-whipped whiteouts and brutal windchills today, the Star Tribune said. 

                The weather has had effects on transportation over several parts of southeastern Minnesota, according to KARE 11 News.

                The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is extending a travel advisory urging drivers in 11 southeastern Minnesota counties to stay off the roads, the Star Tribune said.

                Wednesday has had 24 mph winds from the north gusting to 40 mph and beyond, the afternoon temperature of 8 degrees will feel like 15 below zero, according to the weather service.  The winds will create whiteout conditions that will produce "near-zero visibility" condition, the Star Tribune said.

                Jonathan Yuhas told KARE 11 News that accumulating snow would be done in the Twin Cities metro area by noon but the rest of the day will be very cold with gusty northwest winds ands sub-zero wind-chills.

                A Blizzard Warning remains in effect for the south metro and a Winter Storm Warning is in effect for the north metro Wednesday, according to KARE 11 News.

Minnesotans protest Afghan war

Minnesotans protest Afghan war

By Brittany Falkers

            About 200 protesters, many disenchanted supporters of President Obama, demonstrated in south Minneapolis Saturday afternoon against the escalating war in Afghanistan, the Star Tribune said.

            The protesters gathered along the sidewalk on E. Lake Street at Hiawatha Avenue, watched by Minneapolis police officers, three on horseback, across the street, the Star Tribune said.

            Among signs held was one declaring the war in "Barackastan" waged by "Obombya," according to the Star Tribune.

            This protest came just days after a previous demonstration lead by a group of more than 100 anti-war demonstrators, according to the Minnesota Daily.

It was less than 24 hours after Obama's decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan that the anti-war demonstrators marched through the streets of downtown Minneapolis on Tuesday evening, disrupting traffic and chanting in protest of Obama's announcement, the Minnesota Daily said.

Protesters started marching at the southwest corner of Loring Park at around 5:30 p.m. and continued through downtown for nearly two hours, until returning to the park, according to the Minnesota Daily. 

Twin Cities janitors rally for greener jobs

Twin Cities janitors rally for greener jobs

By Brittany Falkers


            Twin Cities janitors launched a campaign Saturday aimed at making their jobs "green," according to the WCCO News.

            More than 300 janitors and community members rallied and marched in downtown Minneapolis Saturday to push for a reduction of toxic chemicals in their workplaces and save energy - while making sure they have full-time jobs in their new contract, according to the Star Tribune.  

            They met at noon on Saturday at Block E in downtown Minneapolis.  Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison were scheduled to attended, according to WCCO News. 

            Javier Morillo-Alicea, president of Local 26 of the Service Employees International Union, told the Star Tribune, "We know that conservation is key for our children and grandchildren to inherit a livable world."

            SEIU Local 26 represents more than 4,000 janitors who clean buildings in the seven-county metro area.  The union is preparing to bargain a new contract. The current contract expires Dec. 31, the Star Tribune said.

Teacher charged because of inappropriate notes to girls

Teacher charged because of inappropriate notes to girls

By Brittany Falkers


            A Buffalo, Minn. middle school teacher was charged with leaving sexually suggestive notes in two of his students' lockers, according to WCCO News.

            Martin Lee Bartels, 53, of Anoka, put the notes in the seventh-grade girls' lockers.  He was charged Tuesday with a misdemeanor disorderly conduct in Wright County District Court, the Star Tribune said.

            Bartels had worked with this school for 28 years.  He was captured on a school surveillance video placing a note inside the locker of on of his students, WCCO New said.

            The notes were brought to the school administration by the student in question.  Soon after, another student brought yet another note to the administration's attention, according to WCCO News.

            According to the complaint against Bartels, police say he admitted to them that he wrote two notes on his home computer.  Both notes said how the bodies of the girls, ages 12 and 13, turned him on, the Star Tribune said.

            "Great curves all over the place," the complaint quoted one of the notes as saying.  "I really, really, really love your legs, I wish you would show them off more often.  I like how you show just enough on top [to arouse] me," according to the Star Tribune.

            The school's principal and information technology director observed Bartels using his computer and were able to observe his action via remote desktop access.  They allegedly witnessed Bartels composing another explicit note, which also included instructions on how the student was to send notes back to him, WCCO News said.

            After police were contacted, Bartels was questioned.  He admitted that he had written the notes, according to WCCO News.

Café Brenda closing

Café Brenda closing

By Brittany Falkers


            The landmark Café Brenda will be closing after 23 years of business on December 5, according to City Pages.

            "Everything has its time," owner Brenda Langton told the Star Tribune.  "I'm fin with it.  We've had a great time.  It's been fun."

            The restaurant pioneered in the local-foods movement, serving a mostly vegetarian menu, it opened in the Minneapolis Warehouse District in 1986, the Star Tribune said.

            "Back then, the Warehouse District was really cool," Langton told the Star Tribune.  "But those days are done."

            Langton will continue to run Café Brenda's sister restaurant, Spoonriver, lead the Mill City Farmers Market, which she helped pioneer, and work on other projects relating to food and health, including teaching at the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality & Healing and publishing a new cookbook, the City Pages said.

            "I'm having a great time moving into other arenas, and I just don't have time for it all," she told the Star Tribune.

            Until the closing Langton plans to be a fixture during lunch and dinner at the restaurant, so she can say goodbye to customers, and gently nudge them over to Spoonriver, according to the Star Tribune.

            "I think I'll be getting a lot of hug in the next two weeks," she told the Star Tribune.  "At least I hope so."

Another Minnesota man indicted for supporting terrorists

Another Minnesota man indicted for supporting terrorists

By Brittany Falkers


A local Somali man was indicted Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on charges of conspiring to provide support to terrorist, according to the Star Tribune.

            Omer Abdi Mohamed, a 23-year-old unemployed employment counselor and father of a two-month-old boy, was also indicted on charges of conspiracy to "kill, kidnap, main or injure" people in foreign countries, the Star Tribune said.

            Kare11 News also reported investigation into the recruitment of Minnesota Somalis to fight in Somalia.

            Mohamed, of Minneapolis, is the sixth Somali man with local ties to be charged in connection with a two-year-old federal counterterrorism investigation aimed at finding out who recruited up to 20 local men of Somali decent to return to their homeland and train and fight with the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, the Star Tribune said.

            Some of the men who left to return to their homeland were in their early 20s. Others to go were in their teens, leaving before their senior year of high school, according to the Star Tribune.

            If convicted, Mohamed faces a potential maximum penalty of 15 years in prison on court one, 15 years in prison on court two, and life determined by a federal district court judge, Kare11 News said.      

            Four other Somali-American men from Minnesota or who have ties to Minnesota have pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis to charges related to this case.  Three of those men pleaded guilty earlier this year, and admitted to travelling to Somalia and attending an Al-Shabab training camp, the Star Tribune said.

Mora Man jailed for plea to miss jury duty

Mora Man jailed for plea to miss jury duty

By Brittany Falkers


            A Mora, Minn. plumber was recently jailed when his answers during a jury selection landed him in the Kanabec County jail, according to the Star Tribune.

            According to court records, Tom Gilly said he could see himself "getting awfully frustrated" if he had to take off more than a day, Inforum said.

"I could see myself just going with the flow to get it over with to get back to work," Gilly said, according to the Star Tribune. 

Kanabec County Chief Judge Timothy Bloomquist did not respond well to Gilly's answer.  Bloomquist found Gilly in contempt of court and sentenced him to a day in jail, the Star Tribune said.

Gilly was taken away, locked up with the other imamates, and given the standard prison uniform, the Star Tribune said.

The judge says he does not think the punishment "was disproportionate," according to Inforum.

Minnesota officials are concerned with more people seeking exemptions from jury duty because they cannot afford it, according to the Star Tribune.

Donald Lewis, dean of the Hamline University School of Law called what happened "a rare event," the Star Tribune said.

Lewis told the Star Tribune that people do have legitimate reasons to be excused from jury duty, but it's up to the judge to discern when there is truly a hardship as opposed to an inconvenience. 

Northfield man indicted for charges of child porn

Northfield man indicted for charges of child porn

By Brittany Falkers


            Evidence of child pornography distribution operations was revealed in a federal search warrant for a Northfield man, who now sits in a California cell, according to Northfield News. 

            The suspect, Ernst O. Luposchinsky III is a 55-year-old man, who was indicted on federal charges of distributing child pornography, according to the Star Tribune.

            Luposchinsky admitted that his website created an image- and video-sharing haven for people sexually attracted to children, the Star Tribune said.

            He was busted in September, after authorities intercepted a letter addressed to him from Melbourne, Australia, from someone who frequented his website, according to the Star Tribune.

            Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents received information that someone names "Khan Amore" was distributing child pornography on the Luposchinsky's Web site.  This traced federal agents to Luposhainsky in July of 2008, the Northfield News said.

            The Minnesota office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently has 35 open child pornography investigations and has conducted 126 such investigations over the past three years, the Star Tribune said.

            Luposhainsky is currently being held without bail in California, awaiting trial on the charges in U.S. District Court in San Diego, according to the Star Tribune.      

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