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Campaign literature results in court order

By Staff | Nov 21, 2010

A flyer distributed days before the Nov. 2 general election may have been the last straw for a Winnebago businessman.

The material prepared by Steve Willett of Edina encouraged Faribault County residents to vote for Troy Timmerman in the county attorney’s race.

“Help support public trust and confidence in Faribault County. Elect Troy Timmerman to prosecute Robert Weerts for the felony charge of perjury,” the flyer declared.

Willett accuses current County Attorney Brian Roverud of preventing the sheriff’s department from investigating probable perjury charges against Weerts.

Court documents say flyers were found at homes and businesses in Blue Earth, Bricelyn, Guckeen, Kiester, Wells and Winnebago.

On Oct. 27, Weerts filed a 33-page document in Faribault County District Court requesting a harassment restraining order be issued.

In court papers, Weerts says many Winnebago residents have contacted him expressing concern for his and his family’s safety.

“My wife is fearful of traveling unaccompanied in the community. Even my grandchildren have expressed fear for their safety,” says Weerts in court papers.

He says his privacy has been invaded because Willett “has gone beyond the boundaries of civilized conduct” by spreading lies over the Internet and posting them in the community.

In his petition, Weerts contends Wil-

lett has:

• made threats;

• frightened him with threatening behavior;

• a pattern of attending public events after being notified that his presence is harassment;

• done other acts repeatedly that meet the legal definition of harassment.

“For over two years Willett has engaged in disparaging and threatening conduct,” says Weerts. “There is no reason to believe that Willett will stop this type of conduct without a court order.”

Judge Robert Walker granted a restraining order that will remain in effect until Oct. 12, 2012.

The rift between the two began after Weerts purchased a business in northern Minnesota where Willett was employed.

In January 2009, Willett filed a civil suit alleging Weerts had interfered with various business relationships.

Two months ago, Judge Douglas Richards dismissed Willett’s lawsuit.

One of the reasons cited was failure to comply with state law and rules, such as not giving a deposition.

Willett has appealed Richards’ ruling to a state appellate court.

In addition to not having any contact with Weerts, staying away from his Winnebago home and job sites in Aitkin, Blue Earth, North Mankato and Winnebago, Willett also must:

• immediately remove all videos or other post-ups from You Tube or Internet sites that refer to the lawsuit between the two men;

• not refer to Weerts in writing or verbally as a “criminal,” “villain,” “perjurer” or in any manner to paint him as someone who engages in criminal or other improper conduct;

• not in any way, written or verbally, accuse any of Weerts’ businesses of being engaged in criminal conduct or any civil or criminal fraud;

• not display conduct or communication concerning Weerts or his businesses that has threatening tendency to hold them up to hatred, scorn, contempt or ridicule.

The restraining order will remain in effect unless Willett requests a hearing within 45 days to have it changed or voided.

Failure to follow conditions of the order may result in penalties ranging from 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine to a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A person guilty of displaying a pattern of harassment faces a felony with a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.