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Two Minnesota militia cases connected

Trevino appeals conviction and sentence; U wants to continue stadium liquor sales; Public Safety delays data-sale change; efforts ramp up on insurance fraud; legislators may boost rainy-day fund; and more.

Aha! David Hanners of the PiPress reports: “Federal officials confirmed that the case of a man convicted of possessing bombs is connected to that of a Minnesota Army National Guard member now charged with identity theft involving military ID documents. In a notice filed Thursday morning, a prosecutor said the cases of Buford ‘Bucky’ Rogers and Keith Novak were related. … Novak had worked in intelligence with the Army’s 82nd Airborne and left active duty service in September 2012. … He was also the self-proclaimed commander of a Minnesota militia known as the 44th Spatha Libertas, Latin for ‘Sword of Freedom.’ When agents raided his apartment, they seized five weapons, 1,000 rounds of loaded ammunition and 4,000 rounds of loose ammo, the FBI said.” Barely enough to go to the movies.

As expected … Nicole Norfleet of the Strib says: “Jeffery Trevino on Thursday appealed the judgment and sentence that he received last year when he was convicted of killing his wife, according to court documents. Trevino was sentenced in November to 27½ years in prison in connection with the killing of his wife last February, nearly twice the maximum recommended by guidelines.” Tom Petters might have a better chance.

Maura Lerner of the Strib says: “Selling beer and wine on game days has not caused an upsurge in rowdy behavior at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium. As a result, the university officials say they want to continue the sales after its two-year pilot project ends in July. The plan will have to be approved by the Legislature. A new report shows that the number of alcohol-related incidents at the stadium was lower in 2013 than 2010, two years before alcohol sales began.”

That elimination of bulk driver and vehicle data? Postponed. The AP story says: “The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has postponed for two months the elimination of bulk sales of driver’s license and vehicle records, an official with the agency said Thursday. The policy change was supposed to happen March 10, but the agency will now wait until mid-May. Department spokesman Bruce Gordon told The Associated Press that it leaves time to implement a new subscription service for big users of the data, who have opposed the change. The department will eventually require specific queries at $5 per lookup for potentially millions of searches annually.”

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If even only for appearances’ sake … Jennifer Bjorhus’ Strib story says: “For years retailers have been warring with the major card networks such as Visa and MasterCard and the card issuing banks over the country’s Byzantine digital payments system. Now, the enemies say they’re dropping the guns to join hands in making customers’ personal information more secure.”

The GleanIn the same realm … The bill to get a tighter grip on insurance scammers may lead to bigger things. In Abby Simon’s Strib story, she says: “The bill presented Thursday would enable information sharing and easier prosecution of bad actors who use insured drivers as pawns in schemes to defraud companies of thousands of dollars in benefits. It’s part of a package of proposed reforms that lawmakers say could stop the throngs of criminals who prey on accident victims and defraud the state’s no-fault insurance system by offering unnecessary medical procedures or drastically marking up prescription costs.” So, kind of like every hospital’s chargemaster?

What!? Prepare for something bad? Says Tim Pugmire at MPR: “Minnesota’s rainy-day fund could get a major boost this year if the state’s next economic forecast still shows a budget surplus when it’s released later this month. The fund sits at $661 million currently, slightly above what state law requires. With the state’s economy on the upswing, some lawmakers say it’s time to stash away more. Senate DFL leaders say increasing the state’s budget reserve is a high priority for them in 2014. A bill has already been introduced in the House.”

That’ll be $4.1 million … Alex Friedrich, also at MPR, reports: “Campus security improvements prompted by last fall’s surge in robberies will cost the University of Minnesota $4.1 million. More than three-quarters will go toward installation of a key-card security system in campus buildings. The rest will go to improved campus lighting and more external security cameras.”

This is serious, but still … Curtis Gilbert of MPR says: “A Minneapolis City Council committee has dealt a setback to a proposed six-story hotel development in the Dinkytown business district. The Zoning & Planning Committee today recommended city staff study whether one of the buildings that stands on the proposed hotel site has historical significance. … Built in 1921, the one-story brick building is currently home to a tattoo parlor, a pizza place and a Vietnamese restaurant.” And what’s more, rumor has it that a previous occupant of the tattoo parlor space owned every Country Joe eight-track. Karen Boros has MinnPost coverage here.