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Two Armstrong officials plead not guilty

By Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer | Feb 21, 2021

Mary Kate Staton

The criminal cases against

five current and former officials

of Armstrong continue

to move forward in Emmet

County District Court.

Greg Buum, mayor

Armstrong mayor Greg

Buum filed a written arraignment

and plea of not

guilty Friday. Buum posted

$67,000 cash bond Tuesday,

Craig Merrill

Feb. 16 and withdrew his

application for bond review.

Buum is represented by Pam

Wingert of Spirit Lake.

Armstrong police chief

Tracie Lang

Craig Merrill posted bond

of $41,000 for release

from the Martin County,

Minn., jail and attorney

Angela Campbell of Dickey,

Connie Thackery

Campbell & Sahag law

firm of Des Moines filed an

Appearance in court Friday.

Former city clerk Connie

Thackery entered a written

arraignment and plea of not

guilty Thursday, along with

a demand for speedy trial,

and motions to dismiss her

charges for pre-accusatorial

delay and expiration of

the statute of limitations.

Through her attorney, Ned

Bjornstad of Bjornstad

Law Office in Spirit Lake,

Thackery had sought several

items in discovery, which

is a request from the prosecution

for its evidence. One

item Thackery sought was

any deals the prosecutors

had made with other defendants.

However, the requests

were dismissed and replaced

with a notice of intent to take

depositions. In a deposition,

attorneys for both sides meet

with the parties in the case

and a court reporter in an

agreed-upon location like a

conference room, not in the

courtroom. The attorneys

question subjects and witnesses,

who are under oath.

The deposition transcripts

may then be used as reference

in court.

Attorneys not involved in the Armstrong cases told the Estherville News that unlike the way court is shown in movies and TV shows, there are rarely game-changing surprises at trial because discovery, whether through documents turned over or depositions or other modes, makes the evidence collected available to both sides.

Former city clerk Mary “Kate” Staton, who left the Emmet County area several years ago, returned to Emmet County Wednesday to turn herself in for the two aggravated misdemeanors for which she is charged. She paid $400 bond, which is 10 percent of the bond set at $4,000 for Staton. Jack Bjornstad of Jack Bjornstad Law Office in Spirit Lake is representing Staton.

Current city clerk Tracie Lang remains in Dickinson County jail on a $44,000 bond. Lang has a bond reduction hearing today, Monday. Lang is represented by Bethany Brands of Spirit Lake.