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IA - Former officers plead guilty to hunting violation

By HarlanOnline.com
11 April 2007

HARLAN -- Two former Harlan police officers were among a group of individuals pleading guilty to hunting violations dating back to an investigation last November.

Aaron A. Holtz, 29, and Bradley Wendt, 30, pleaded guilty in Cass County District court last week to one count of pursuing a deer and trespassing.

Also pleading guilty to those same charges were Kent Gries, 28, Elk Horn, a police officer in Coon Rapids; Daniel Grabill, 28, Harlan; and Dustin A. Hansen, 19, Harlan.

The five men were fined $165 each plus court costs.

Wendt also is charged in Adair County with failure to display license plates.

Wendt, Hansen and Ross Burchett, 28, Harlan, face additional charges in Adair County of shooting a rifle over water. Burchett also faces charges in Cass County of trespassing and pursing a deer in a vehicle.

Trial dates for those additional charges are this month.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the Iowa State Patrol, charged the individuals with numerous hunting violations alleged to occur November 24, 2006.

Former police officers Wendt and Holtz were fired by The City of Harlan in early February. Both came to work Monday, Feb. 5 and were told they were no longer Harlan Police officers.

Harlan city officials offered no specific reasons for the two officers' termination, but did say they had been reviewing the situation over a few months.

Both Wendt and Holtz have said they are fighting the terminations, hoping to regain their positions and force city officials to admit their mistake in letting them go from the police force. They have met with a union attorney, and said they feel they were fired unjustly. They want their jobs back just long enough to clear their names and find another job in law enforcement.

Meanwhile, the city has moved on, hiring two officers to replace Wendt and Holtz. David Stout, currently a certified officer with the Stuart Police Department, and Nate Christensen, Harlan, will come on board later this month.

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