The jury trial for a Wanamingo Township supervisor accused of burning township election ballots in 2014 got underway Tuesday in Goodhue County District Court. Defense attorney Alex Rogosheske said his client, Thomas Joseph Shane, 59, of Zumbrota, admits to destroying the ballots after the March 11 election, but was well-intentioned and acted following the advice of an election judge present that night. Prosecutor Christopher Schrader with the Goodhue County Attorney’s Office said the key question is why Shane allegedly burned the ballots and if he had legal reason to do so.
Shane is charged with felony election day conduct of damaging, defacing or mutilating ballots, punishable by up to one year and one day in jail, as well as misconduct by a public officer by exceeding authority, a gross misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.
Among the testimony heard Tuesday was from former Wanamingo Township Supervisor Rae Rusnak, who lost her re-election bid in 2014 by a wide margin, and Township Clerk Jessica Page — both of whom filed election law complaints that tipped county investigators to the incident.
Rusnak said she was present at the annual township meeting the night of the election when the vote tally was read. She testified that she heard James Foss, one of two people chosen to count ballots as election tellers, state “sternly” after results were read that the ballots should be immediately destroyed.
Full Article: Trial begins in burned ballots case | Republican Eagle.