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Washington County Commissioner Pulkrabek on assault allegation: 'I am innocent'

Washington County Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek

Washington County Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek will not face a felony charge in connection with an alleged domestic assault, the Ramsey County attorney decided, but the prosecutor is recommending a misdemeanor charge.

Pulkrabek, 41, was arrested May 30 on suspicion of felony domestic assault by strangulation and misdemeanor fifth-degree assault after his girlfriend alleged he choked her and pulled her down stairs by her hair during an incident at his Woodbury residence, according to a police report.

Pulkrabek briefly addressed the incident in a statement Tuesday to commissioners and county officials at a Washington County Board meeting in Stillwater.

"I am innocent," Pulkrabek said, calling the accusations against him false.

"I am looking forward to proving my innocence as the judicial process moves forward."

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi reviewed the case at the request of Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. Choi declined to bring felony charges against the long-time commissioner, but recommended that the Woodbury city attorney consider a misdemeanor charge.

"Our prosecutors thoroughly reviewed the evidence presented to us by police and determined that there is insufficient evidence to bring a felony charge," Choi said in a release. "However, our prosecutors believe that a city attorney should consider bringing a misdemeanor charge in this case, and we have been informed that will happen."

Woodbury police said Tuesday they had forwarded the case to the city attorney. The city attorney could not be reached immediately for comment on the status of the case.

Pulkrabek was arrested shortly after the Memorial Day incident at 10993 Oak Grove Circle Apt. A. He was booked and released from Washington County Jail on $25,000 bail. His arrest came after a woman reported that she was in an argument with her boyfriend, identified as Pulkrabek, when he threw her onto his bed by her hair, according to the police incident report.

The woman said Pulkrabek placed his forearm on her neck, making it difficult for her to breathe. She pushed and kneed him to get him off of her. The incident report says Pulkrabek pulled his girlfriend by her hair down the stairs and out of his residence. The alleged victim did not need medical attention.

"These allegations have been without merit since they were first reported," Pulkrabek's attorney, Ryan Kaess, said in a statement.

Pulkrabek is married to Lori Pulkrabek, an Oakdale City Council member. Lori was not the alleged victim.

The woman, Jill Samuelson, obtained a court order that bars Pulkrabek from seeing her, or from coming within 100 feet of her workplace or residence. In the order, filed in Washington County District Court May 31 and made public on Monday, Samuelson wrote that she and Pulkrabek have been romantically involved for 2 1/2 years and were in daily contact during that time.

Samuelson wrote in the affidavit that she feared for her life during a dispute that was sparked by Pulkrabek's treatment of her cat and her taking a skin care product from his bathroom.

Pulkrabek represents Washington County District 2, which includes Oakdale, Lake Elmo, Landfall and part of Woodbury. The Oak Grove Circle address is in Pulkrabek's commissioner district. The property is owned by Brian LeClair, a former Woodbury-area state senator. Kaess confirmed that Pulkrabek has been living with LeClair for about six months.

Pulkrabek was first elected to the County Board in 1998 and won re-election last fall. He served as Oakdale mayor from 1995 to 1998.

Kaess said his client plans to remain on the County Board and asked that the public withhold judgment.

"We hope and expect that people will refrain from making any judgments until they have had the chance to see all the facts," Kaess said in the statement. "Mr. Pulkrabek regrets that this matter has created a distraction from other important issues related to Washington County and he will continue to serve as a member of the county's board of commissioners."

Washington County Board Chairman Gary Kriesel said Pulkrabek's situation would not be a distraction and that commissioners will "continue to deal with the business at hand."

"It's obvious Commissioner Pulkrabek has to resolve a personal problem," Kriesel said.