Recently in Local News Category

Tennis Coach Charged with Criminal Sexual Conduct

A Twin Cities tennis coach was charged Friday with criminal sexual conduct after an underage girl taking lessons from him complained that he slapped her buttocks and spoke to her inappropriately, the Star Tribune reported.

Roberto DeFreitas, 47, was charged with criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree, a felony, in Hennepin County District Court.

Charges said that the 14-year-old girl's father notified a Minneapolis police officer about DeFreitas' inappropriate behavior.

The girl said she was taking tennis lessons at Fred Wells Tennis and Education Center in Minneapolis where DeFreitas led many lessons.

Last month she was invited into DeFreitas' office where he began speaking inappropriately and showed her a picture of himself bare chested. The girl said that DeFreitas also slapped her buttocks and commented on her breasts.

DeFreitas admitted to slapping her buttocks during an interview with police on Dec. 10. He also admitted to telling the girl not to tell anyone about their conversation.

Police said the investigation is ongoing. DeFreitas is being held in the Hennepin County Jail.

St. Paul Woman Accused of Smuggling Elephant Parts from Laos

A St. Paul woman was indicted for allegedly smuggling parts of an Asian elephant and dead birds into the country two years ago, the Pioneer Press reported.

Filed Tuesday, the indictment charged Seng Her, 56, with one count of smuggling goods into the U.S.

According to the Star Tribune, Her was stopped by U.S. Customs officials at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in November 2007 after visiting Laos.

According to the indictment, Her smuggled in parts of an Asian elephant, an endangered species, as well as several dead birds including yellow-vented flowerpeckers, tailorbirds, prinias and passerines.

The Pioneer Press reported that birds are banned from entering the U.S. from Laos because the country is a source of avian flu.

The market for raw endangered wildlife is caused by traditional Asian medicinal and cultural needs, the Star Tribune said.

E. coli Victim Sues Cargill for $100 million

A woman from Cold Spring, Minn., who nearly died of a food borne illness after eating a Cargill hamburger in 2007, filed a $100 million lawsuit against Cargill this morning, the Star Tribune reported.

Stephanie Smith, 22, a former dance teacher, can no longer walk, suffers from brain damage, cannot have children and may lose her kidneys due to an infection caused by E. coli 0157:H7. 

The New York Times discussed her case in October in which it revealed the operations of the modern meatpacking industry by tracing the hamburger meat served at Smith's family barbecue in 2007. The meat was traced to four different plants from two countries.

Cargill has paid nearly $2 million of Smith's medical bills so far and has advanced funds to Smith's family for any additional costs or financial assistance.

The Pioneer Press reported that Cargill does not take responsibility for Smith's case, but blames her condition on its suppliers.

Smith's case is one of the most vivid and horrifying cases of food borne illness outbreaks. Her story has helped bring reform to the food safety system.

Granddaughter of Famous Wrestler Charged with Sex Crime

A former weight room supervisor and teacher at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul faces two counts of third-degree criminal-sexual conduct for allegedly engaging in sexual activities with an underage student in 2008, the Star Tribune reported.

Gail E. Gagne, 25, granddaughter of famed wrestler Verne Gagne and the daughter of former professional wrestler Greg Gagne, allegedly engaged in sexual activities with a 16-year-old male student who worked for her in the weight room she supervised.

The Pioneer Press reported that the student and Gagne performed sexual acts at her father's Bloomington home. They also spent the night and had sex in a hotel near the Mall of America.

Charges were filed in Hennepin County District Court, each of which is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. A warrant for her arrest was issued on Tuesday, the Star Tribune reported.

Gagne's lawyer, Earl Gray, said she will plead not guilty.

The Pioneer Press reported that Gagne was hired by Cretin-Derhman Hall in November 2007 as an assistant basketball coach. She later became the weight-room supervisor in summer 2008 and was hired as a full-time teacher the following September.

The Star Tribune reported that police began investigating the case in May 2009.

St. Paul police do not have Gagne in custody. They believe she now resides in the Chicago area.

Two More Arrested for Assaults in YouTube Video

Saint Paul police arrested two more suspects involved with a YouTube video that featured eight men assaulting people in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Star Tribune reported.

The two young men were arrested on suspicion of causing a riot. In addition, Mohamed Abdiqadin Abdi, 19, was booked into the Ramsey County Jail, while another 17-year-old was held at a juvenile detention center, bringing the total to four arrested suspects.

Police are still searching for the others who filmed the video, while at least four others are suspected of being involved with the crime.

The investigation was in response to a YouTube video posted on Monday featuring eight young men terrorizing pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists and children. The men included their real names and clear images of their faces in the video.

The video showed locations in St. Paul, such as University Avenue and Lexington Parkway, and Lincoln Avenue and Chatsworth Street.

The Pioneer Press reported that the video showed suspects flashing what appeared to be Crips gang signs, though there has been no confirmation that any of the men are gang members.

Man Sentenced for Throwing Dog Off Balcony

A St. Paul man who pleaded guilty to hurling his girlfriend's dog off a balcony was sentenced Thursday to two years' probation, the Star Tribune reported.

Quincy Lee Morrow, 23, pleaded guilty Sept. 22 to felony mistreatment of an animal.

The criminal charge was due to an incident that occurred on Nov. 28, 2008, when Morrow threw his girlfriend's pit bull puppy off her second-story apartment balcony in Maplewood. The dog suffered such extreme injuries that it had to be put down.

Ramsey County District Judge Rosanne Nathanson prohibited Morrow from possessing pets as well as living in homes that has pets.

Morrow feels remorse for what he did and is seeking counseling,  the Star Tribune reported.

Woman is Charged for Lying About St. Paul College Gunman

On Sept. 23, St. Paul College was evacuated, classes were canceled, and police SWAT teams searched the college for a gunman reportedly seen in an elevator, the Star Tribune reported.

Weeks afterward, St. Paul police discovered that the report was a hoax. On Tuesday, the St. Paul city attorney's office said St. Paul College student Charleeta Deon Brown, 42, had been charged with falsely reporting a crime.

After Brown told police she saw an unidentified man retrieve a gun hidden on a ledge inside the elevator, police rushed to the school. The campus was locked down, and police then spent four hours searching for the gunman, the Pioneer Press reported.

However, on Oct. 19, Brown told investigators the report was a fake. She did not reveal her motive for concocting the story.

Brown was charged with a misdemeanor for falsely reporting a crime and was expelled from the college, the Star Tribune reported. She was convicted twice in 2007 for a misdemeanor in theft and another for gross-misdemeanor check forgery.

Brown's false report caused the Police Department about $10,000 in personnel costs. 

St. Paul Soldier Among 13 Killed in Fort Hood Massacre

A St. Paul soldier was among the 13 people killed in the Thursday massacre at Fort Hood, a U.S. military base in Texas, the Pioneer Press reported.

Kham Xiong, 23, stood with about 300 other soldiers at the base's Soldier Readiness Center to get a flu shot and to have his eyes tested before being deployed to Afghanistan in January.

It was then that the Army psychiatrist opened fire on the soldiers. Xiong died as a result of the shooting.

Xiong's family was shocked and angry that their son had been killed on U.S. soil, and in what they believed had been a "safe" environment.

Xiong is survived by his wife, Shoua Her, and by his children, a 4-year-old daughter, a 2-year-old son and a 10-month-old baby boy.

Husband Charged in Murder of Wife; Police say he Confessed

A St. Paul man was charged Thursday in the murder of his wife Monday night in the couple's home, the Star Tribune reported.

Gerald B. Wassenaar, 67, was charged with unintentional second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Jean A. Wassenaar. 

Wassenaar confessed to police about committing the crime. "I did it," the criminal complaint said.

An autopsy found Jean Wassenaar died from "multiple traumatic injuries" to the scalp and to the internal neck region, the Pioneer Press reported.

Gerald Wassenaar was taken to Regions Hospital and placed on a mental health hold.

Metro Transit Bus Collides with Car in St. Paul, injuring six

Six passengers riding the Route 16 Metro Transit bus suffered minor injuries Wednesday after the bus and a car collided in St. Paul.

The collision occurred at about 2:25 p.m. on University Avenue near the Albert Street intersection, the Star Tribune reported.

The bus was going east on University when a car heading west turned left in front of it and failed to yield. The bus hit the car broadside.

The bus sustained damage to its bike rack and bumper, but was able to drive away after the collision, the Pioneer Press reported. It is unknown whether the car was damaged.

No one in the car was hurt, but six passengers on the Route 16 were taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul as a precaution.

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