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A hundred lawyers, 140 lawsuits: Let the Target data-breach case begin

Jailer and cook arm local gangs; no secret VA list; African American museum collapse; and more.

Is this like clowns in a clown car? The PiPress’ Tom Webb and Nick Woltman report that “nearly 100 lawyers” crowded into U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson’s courtroom, where “more than 140 lawsuits” over last Christmas season’s massive data theft have been consolidated. “I know Target would like to have big, long, indefinite stays,” the paper quotes the judge as saying. “I don’t think that’s appropriate.”

The Strib’s Paul McEnroe reports a now-fired Hennepin County jailer and a school cook have been federally indicted for arming the “BTG” gang through straw purchases. “At least seven weapons, large amounts of ammunition and firearms magazines were pursed over several months,” McEnroe writes. The corrections officer, unsurprisingly, is on the lam. 

The VA has had (much) better weeks of PR, but Cong. Tim Walz is vouching for at least one facet of the local operation. Tim Krohn of The Mankato Free Press says, “There is no evidence of a secret wait list at Minnesota VA clinics, but U.S. Rep. Tim Walz says he is pursuing a ‘full accounting of the data and the medical scheduling process used locally.’ … The goal is for a wait of no more than 14 days to see a VA provider. Walz said that in Minnesota it appears the average wait time ‘is hovering around two to three weeks and sometimes longer.’”

Kind of a major bungle … . Alejandro Matos of the Strib says, “Six years after it was founded, a museum celebrating the history of blacks in Minnesota remains closed and at risk of losing nearly $1.4 million in state funding. … The home, yard and carriage house are in disarray, with peeling paint, exposed wires and construction materials scattered in the yard. A distressed ‘Summer 2011’ sign sits on its front steps, and the phone is not in service.”

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She should consider herself lucky … . The AP says, “A former Minnesota woman who lied to a grand jury about raising money for men who left the state to join a terrorist group in Somalia was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and ordered to perform community service. Saynab Hussein, 24, of Nashville, Tennessee, showed remorse during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.”

The owners of the RV with the dead body in it have been ruled out as suspects … . Sarah Horner of the PiPress says, “ ‘We were immediately aware of who the owners of the RV were, they have fully cooperated and are not considered suspects in anything,’ Anoka County sheriff’s office Cmdr. Paul Sommer said Wednesday. Sommer added that investigators would release further details about [Kevin] Casserly’s death when they are able to do so.”

Grab your binoculars … . Andy Rathbun of the PiPress reports, “A rare duck has birders in the Midwest flocking to Grantsburg, Wis. The garganey, a Eurasian species rarely found in North America, was first spotted at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area on April 25 and still could be seen there Monday, said Kim Wheeler, a natural resource educator for the wildlife area. ‘This bird has never been seen in Wisconsin before, and it’s not very often (seen) in the Midwest’ … .” If this sets off a stampede like those ice caves … .

And everything has gone so well … . Also in the PiPress, a story by Mary Divine on Stillwater’s chronically newsmaking mayor. “Ken Harycki, who has served two four-year terms as Stillwater mayor, announced Wednesday night that he will not seek re-election. Harycki, 51, said that he made his decision in January and that a March 20 raid by federal agents on his accounting and payroll business had no bearing on it.” I hope he’ll still ride in the Log Jam Days parade … .

Inevitably … .  Michael Rietmulder, in tells us, “Talk to Minnesota’s young microdistillers about their whiskey ambitions and you can practically feel their hearts fluttering. But whiskey takes time, and good whiskey takes even more time. So instead, these mash-minded entrepreneurs are turning to unaged spirits to find their financial footing before filling whiskey barrels.” Hmm, I may rent me a storage locker and start cookin’ … .

Is it sweeps month? KARE-TV’s Trisha Volpe reports on a flicker in the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping case … . “Investigators still looking for Jacob Wetterling nearly 25 years after he was abducted are taking a new look at the similarities between Jacob’s disappearance in 1989 and other incidents involving abductions and assaults on children just a couple of years earlier. … Investigators in Stearns County are now taking a closer look at several stranger assaults that took place in Paynesville in 1986 and 1987. There were at least five assaults and the victims were all teenage boys. One of the boys was grabbed right off of his bike.”

Points to the Strib for running local attorney Joe Bollettieri’s rip job on their coverage of the Philip Nelson assault case. “The above-the-fold front-page headline in the May 13 Star Tribune reads, ‘Flurry of blows leaves 2 lives in ruins.’ The implication seems clear — there are two victims in this story. … The idea that there is some equipoise between the consequences faced by a person who gets kicked in the head and those faced by the person who kicked him is reprehensible.” It’s a fair point for discussion.