ARMSTRONG, Iowa (KCAU) – Court documents reveal the specific charges that four city officials from Armstrong, Iowa, face after authorities conducted a multi-year investigation into alleged wrongdoing.
The Emmet County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that Mayor Greg Buum, Police Chief Craig Merrill, City Clerk Tracie Lang, and former City Clerk Connie Thackery were charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses in 21-count joint trial information approved by the Emmet County District Court.
Buum, Lang, and Thackery were arrested on Friday. On Saturday, Merrill was taken into custody by the Martin County Sheriff’s Office in Minnesota.
Of the 21 total charges against the four, Buum was charged with 11. They include ongoing criminal conduct-unlawful activity, first-degree fraudulent practices, felonious misconduct in office, second-degree theft, third-degree theft, tampering with records, two counts of first-degree theft, and three counts of nonfelonious misconduct in office. Buum was booked into the Emmet County Jail on a bond of $67,000.
Lang was charged with 8 of the 21 charges. They are one count of first-degree fraudulent practices, three counts of felonious misconduct in office, two counts of falsifying public documents, and two counts of tampering with records. She was booked into the Emmet County Jail on a bond of $44,000.
Merrill was charged with 6 of the combined 21 charges. They are ongoing criminal conduct-unlawful activity, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of nonfelonious misconduct in office
Thackery was charged with 4 of the 21 charges. They include ongoing criminal conduct-unlawful activity, second-degree theft, third-degree theft, and nonfelonious misconduct in office. Thackery was booked into the Emmet County Jail on a bond of $33,000.
Among the theft charges, Buum, Merrill, Thackery, are accused of misappropriating payable to others, sometimes in excess of $10,000 dating all the way back to 2013.
Buum and Lang are accused of falsifying a public record or issuing a false document regarding a City Street Financial Report between 2016 and 2018 exceeding $10,000.
Regarding other falsified documents, Lang is accused of falsifying a petition the city received by the city around February 2017 and city minutes around October or November of 2017.
Documents also said that Merrill assaulted a man around April 2, 2016, and July 2016 using a taser. He then failed to report the money collected meant to reimburse the city for the use of the city-owned TASER at a party. In the summer of 2016, he also received an all-expense paid vacation while serving as the police chief, rather than his fixed fee.
Among other charges, Buum is accused of using a reciprocating saw owned by the Armstrong Fire Department in a private carpentry business between 2014 and 2017. Around April 17, 2017, he is also accused of locking the city clerk out of city hall to refrain her from lawfully fulfilling her role.
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting these cases at the request of the local county attorney due to a potential conflict of interest and one or more additional arrests are pending.