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There are several tell-tale signs a hotel stay could involve human trafficking. Payments in cash, frequent short-term traffic to one room and a lack of luggage all point to the potential of a crime that's seemingly erupted in communities around the Twin Cities in recent years. "Speak Up," a newly-announce campaign in Washington County, partners the county's public health and law enforcement agencies with hotels to help recognize potential victims and how to respond.
One of four men accused of stealing guns from a town of Springfield home last fall will serve one year of probation. A St. Croix County Circuit court handed down the sentence to Robert E. Block, a 20-year-old Newport resident who reportedly entered a pole shed on the property with another man, 19-year-old Michael Annis of Maplewood, Minnesota, and took a .22-caliber rifle and 12-gauge shotgun June 5, 2016.
A Mankato man convicted of an armed robbery outside a Cottage Grove Target store faces nearly five years in prison following his Sept. 22 sentencing. Moroma Olok, 23, pleaded guilty last summer to a felony charge of first-degree aiding and abetting aggravated robbery that stemmed from a 2013 incident in which he and another man robbed someone they met through Craigslist. According to a criminal complaint filed in Washington County Jan. 28, 2016, a man received a text message response to his Craigslist post that advertised an iPhone 5s for sale in April 2013.
Farmington native Philip Aurich remains in critical condition following the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas. He was among the hundreds injured when a gunman opened fire into a 22,000-person crowd at the Route 91 Harvest music festival from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Resort and Casino. At least 50 people were killed during the shooting.
Woodbury police believe an 82-year-old man was the victim of a multi-thousand-dollar scam after a caller who claimed to be the man's grandson persuaded him to mail $39,000 in cash to an Atlanta address. According to a report filed July 13, the caller posed as the man's grandson July 12 and asked for money to bail out another individual arrested en route to a funeral. A second request for money came July 13, when the caller said his fingerprints were found on a bag of drugs in the car, followed by a third call asking for even more money.
Washington County officials believe four additional children were victims of a former School District 833 bus attendant who was accused in February of molesting six children. Harvey Theodore Kneifl, 70, of Woodbury now faces a total of 10 felony charges of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly groping children over their clothes as they rode the school bus.
Robotics teams from four local high schools will host their first offseason robotics competition Saturday, Sept. 16, at East Ridge High School. The East Metro Collaborative Competition, a partnership among East Ridge High School, Park High School, Woodbury High School and the Math & Science Academy, will host teams from 26 other Minnesota High schools. The opening ceremony for the event, hosted by Woodbury Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens, starts at 8:30 a.m.
Five men have been arrested in Woodbury during a staged undercover operation targeting people who solicit children for sex Wednesday, Sept. 13. Kyle Bracken, 40 of Minneapolis, Mark Priorier, 47 of Colfax, Wisconsin, Kao Chang, 40 of St. Paul, Mark Kislowski, 48 of Ballston Lake, New York and Gary Infante, 34 of Andover each face similar, but separate, charges related to sexual solicitation of minors.
A felony first-degree burglary conviction landed Lawrence Murray Best a sentence of less than a year in jail, but the 54-year-old Afton man will spend the next two decades on probation. According to a criminal complaint filed in Washington County in March, Best's burglary charge stems from a March 6 incident in which Best refused to leave a woman's Woodbury home and attempted to pocket more than $700 worth of her jewelry.
Guests at the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf politely stepped around shopping carts, shelves of food, volunteers and one another as they browsed the inventory of groceries last week. Each year, about 6,300 people in need filter through a crowded, 1,500-square-foot space in the basement of Woodbury Lutheran Church once a month to load up on a variety of foods, hygiene and baby products, and household items such as toilet paper.