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Accused burglar convicted in water attack at Cloquet nursing home

Chad Patrick Staton

CLOQUET - A man charged last week in connection with two Cloquet burglaries pleaded guilty as a juvenile to throwing pitchers of cold water on vulnerable residents at a Cloquet nursing home.

In that 2007 case, which drew national attention, Chad Patrick Staton was convicted of felony stalking and sentenced to three years at a residential treatment program.

Carlton County attorneys had asked that Staton, then 16, be charged as an adult. But juvenile probation officers argued otherwise, and a judge agreed to handle his case in juvenile court.

Staton eventually admitted to throwing a pitcher of cold water on elderly residents on three occasions at Sunnyside Health Care Center "just to get a reaction" and because he thought it would be "hilarious." At sentencing, he expressed remorse for his actions.

Staton was taken to a correctional facility in southern Minnesota. But because of self-inflicted injuries, he was taken to a hospital and ultimately to another facility in Eau Claire, Wis., Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler said.

After Staton turned 18 in October, his case was closed and he was released, said Tom Proulx, Staton's former juvenile probation officer.

Pertler said Thursday that the new allegations against Staton are unfortunate because the juvenile case gave him a chance to turn his life around.

"A lot of people went the extra mile to try to help him when he was in trouble," Pertler said. "Every available service and program was exhausted. Apparently, it wasn't successful."

Rick Breuer, chief executive officer of Community Memorial Hospital and Sunnyside Health Care Center, could not be reached for comment Thursday. But he said in 2007 that he had asked for restraining orders against Staton and three others who were involved in the water-throwing incidents.

"They are not welcome [at Sunnyside] ever again," he said. "It's terrible what they've done, and it's caused a lot of people here to be very much affected. It's a matter of someone coming into somebody's home and assaulting one of them. It's an attack on some of the most vulnerable people of society."

In the more recent case, Staton and two others are accused of entering two Cloquet homes in the early morning hours of July 6 while residents were sleeping. They took electronic equipment, a purse and other items. The group also allegedly fled in a minivan that they stole from one of the homes. Police have recovered the van and many of the items.

Staton, Mallory Swanstrom, 19, and Devin Brady Haglund, 18, have been charged with two counts of felony burglary and three counts of felony theft. All remain in the Carlton County Jail, with bond set at $100,000 for Staton and Haglund and at $125,000 for Swanstrom because she is involved in another pending criminal case.

Lawyers for the three suspects argued for lower bails at a court appearance Wednesday but were denied.