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Commissioner candidate faces bad check charges

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A candidate for Douglas County commissioner is facing two charges of writing bad checks.

Steven Hensley, 20, was charged with a gross misdemeanor in McLeod County for writing an $800 check to a car dealership in Hutchinson last September that bounced for having insufficient funds.

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Hensley pleaded guilty to the charge in April but failed to appear at his sentencing hearing on July 9 and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Last week, Hensley went to the Douglas County Courthouse and paid $1,500 cash bail to lift the warrant, according to Douglas County Sheriff Troy Wolbersen.

His next court appearance is set for July 26.

Hensley also faces a charge of writing a bad check in Douglas County. According to court documents, Hensley wrote an $800 check last September as payment for merchandise and there wasn't enough money in his account.

Because the offense allegedly involved more than $500, it is currently a felony level charge, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If convicted of a felony, Hensley wouldn't be allowed to vote or hold public office, according to the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office.

Hensley is scheduled to appear in Douglas County District Court on that charge on August 2. Because of a conflict of interest, the prosecution of the case was referred to Otter Tail County.

Hensley is in a three-way race for the Douglas County Board's District 4 position, which includes Hudson Township, Alexandria's wards 1, 2 and 4, and the city of Forada.

Paul C. Anderson, the incumbent, and challenger Arlan Kakac are also in the race. A primary election is set for Tuesday, August 10. The top two vote-getters will appear on the ballot for the general election on November 2.

Hensley told the Echo Press that he is not dropping out of the election.

He said that the charges against him were caused by a "serious error of judgment" on his part and that he didn't have the money to pay the bills in full.

Hensley said that restitution is being made for the checks. He apologized for his mistake and said that it wouldn't happen again. (See related story for his full response.)

Anderson, the chair of the county board, questioned whether Hensley is qualified to be on the board.

"If he's not able to manage his own checkbook, how can he be expected to manage a position on a $100 million corporation, which is the Douglas County Board?" Anderson asked.

Kakac said that he was aware of Hensley's legal troubles - Hensley called him last week about it - but he added that he didn't know enough about the specifics of the charges to comment.

More information about the District 4 commissioner race will be printed in Friday's newspaper. The Echo Press sent questionnaires to the three candidates and their responses will be printed.

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Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
(320) 763-1236
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