Monty Thomas Becker, 43, of rural Frazee, who is the former owner of a Detroit Lakes business, agreed to pay more than $80,000 in restitution in a plea agreement on a felony count of theft by swindle in Becker County District Court.

Becker, 43, of Frazee, owned Silver Leaf Home Center, which is now closed, and is accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $63,000 in down payments between March 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2018. The criminal complaint says customers lost a total of $39,427.

In some cases partial refunds were made, or orders were partially filled. Becker said he used some down payments from later customers to fill orders for earlier customers, according to court records.

The complaint says one couple paid $11,527 for cabinets that were never delivered as promised. They called Becker, and the next day received an email saying that Silver Leaf was permanently closed. They contacted the cabinet manufacturer, and were told that no order for their home had ever been received.

Another customer put $9,608 down on a cabinet order, to be delivered in three months. Becker ceased communications, according to the complaint, and the cabinets were never delivered. The vendor said the cabinets had never been ordered.

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Another customer paid Becker $13,350 on Oct. 11, 2018, for goods and services that were never delivered, and no money was ever refunded. The vendor could not find any paperwork at all for that customer for October.

The final customer (of nine listed in the complaint) paid $1,305 by credit card for laminate countertops. When they weren’t delivered as promised, the customer said they tried unsuccessfully to contact Becker, and then disputed the charge with the credit card company.

Becker disputed the claim. The customer was eventually fully reimbursed by the credit card company. Becker called the law enforcement investigator who had been questioning him and said he had fully reimbursed that customer, according to court records.

A former employee of Becker’s told the investigator that Becker had engaged in some poor business practices.

In a key element of a plea agreement reached Oct. 13 before District Judge Gretchen Thilmony, Becker agreed to plead guilty to one count of felony theft by swindle and pay $80,543 in restitution and a $1,075 fine. The second count of felony theft by swindle was dropped in the plea agreement.

Frazee man sentenced for cruelty to animals

Timothy David Lee, 31, of Frazee has been sentenced in Becker County District Court on a felony charge of cruelty to animals. A second felony charge of cruelty to animals was dropped in a plea agreement.

According to court records, on Sept. 26, 2019, Lee suffocated a cat and hung it from his vehicle grill at a mobile home park in Detroit Lakes.

Lee told a law enforcement officer that he had told his wife he would kill a cat a day until she returned, and that he had to make good on his threats. He was arrested and taken to jail, and several cats at the residence were taken to a safe location.

On Oct. 14, District Judge Jay Carlson issued a stay of imposition of sentence and placed him on supervised probation for four years. Lee was fined $1,000 plus $1,150 in court fees, and ordered to complete 40 hours of community service work, and complete psychological counseling. He is not allowed to have animals, and must submit to regular home checks by an animal control officer.

Charges dropped against Frazee man shot by deputy

Brian Gordon Hazelton, 46, of rural Frazee, has had charges dismissed in Becker County District Court that stemmed from a run-in with law enforcement last year.

According to court records, Hazelton was charged with felony first-degree assault, felony second-degree assault, and felony fourth-degree assault on a police officer for an July 20, 2019, incident: Becker County deputies were called to a rural residence on the report that Hazelton was suicidal, possibly armed and possibly suffering a drug overdose.

Hazelton would not let officers inside, but they learned he had taken pills, including opiates. His voice was slowing and slurring, and they feared for his immediate safety, so they entered the residence and saw Hazelton in a corner with a drywall knife in his hand.

He refused to surrender and threw what turned out to be a rusty handgun at an officer, hitting him in the shoulder. He was tased several times, to no noticeable effect, and when Hazelton walked two or three steps towards an officer, a deputy shot him. An antique gun was found near him. Hazelton was treated for the gunshot wound.

On Oct. 12, all three charges were dropped by the Becker County Attorney’s Office “in the interest of justice,” after a court-appointed examiner found that Hazelton was mentally ill at the time of the offense. “The state does not believe it can overcome his defense of mental illness,” the county attorney’s office said in its motion to dismiss the charges.

DL man sentenced for threats of violence

Benedict Thomas Tyler, 37, of Detroit Lakes, was sentenced in Becker County District Court for felony threats of violence.

According to court records, on Feb. 5, Tyler sent a text to a woman who had a domestic abuse no-contact order against him, threatening to beat her up.

When the victim replied that she would turn him in to the police, he replied by text “go ahead and you will turn up missing,” followed by “(or) your head chopped off,” according to court records.

The next day, Feb. 6, court documents allege he texted the woman that he was getting a ride to come to her residence. She told him she had an order for protection against him. He replied “f--- that ofp, you mean more to me than that dumb ofp.”

The woman lives in Becker County and received the messages in Becker County.

On Oct. 14, District Judge Jay Carlson sentenced Tyler to 15 months in prison at St. Cloud, stayed five years. He was ordered to serve 26 days in jail, with credit for 26 days served, and was fined $500 plus $650 in court fees. He must complete chemical dependency, mental health and domestic abuse evaluations and follow the recommendations, including aftercare. An order for protection was issued for the woman. He was placed on supervised probation for five years. Tyler was also sentenced on a second charge of felony threats of violence, according to court records.

Frazee man sentenced for DWI

Blake Alan Dodd, 34, of rural Frazee has been sentenced in Becker County District Court for gross misdemeanor DWI. A felony charge of fifth-degree controlled substance crime was dropped in a plea agreement.

According to court records, the DWI charge stems from an April 22 incident, in which a state trooper clocked him driving 85 mph on Highway 10 in Becker County. He admitted to a history of drug use, and he failed field sobriety tests. He was previously convicted of DWI in 2012 and 2017.

The drug charge stemmed from an April 26 incident, in which Dodd was a passenger in a car pulled over for a broken taillight in Detroit Lakes. A marijuana bong and a baggie containing a small amount of meth were found in the vehicle.

On Oct. 13, District Judge Michael Fritz issued a stay of adjudication and continued the case. Dodd was ordered to serve two days in jail, with credit for two days served, and was fined $500 plus $575 in court fees. He must get a chemical dependency evaluation and follow the recommendations, including aftercare, and was placed on supervised probation for five years.

Felony theft charge filed on White Earth man who kept car

Nicholas Edward Durant, 30, of rural White Earth Village has been charged in Becker County District Court with felony theft.

According to court records, on Oct. 4, he was a passenger in a vehicle pulled over in Frazee by a police officer who was aware it had been stolen in Moorhead. The car belonged to one of Durant’s relatives, who had repeatedly asked for it back before reporting it stolen on Aug. 30. A search of the car turned up a red container holding several baggies of meth, with a total weight of 3.77 grams with packaging.

On Oct. 6, District Judge Michael Fritz set cash bail for Durant at $500 or bond at $5,000, with standard conditions of release, or bond at $10,000 without conditions.

Burglary charge filed on man caught inside building

Joseph Adam Crowell, 30, of rural Ponsford, has been charged in Becker County District Court with felony third-degree burglary.

According to court records, on Oct. 4, a Becker County deputy arrested him inside a building off Highway 34, trying to get gasoline out of a tractor. A surveillance camera had revealed the activity inside the building.

On Oct. 6, District Judge Michael Fritz set cash bail for Crowell at $1,500 or bond at $15,000, with standard conditions of release, or bond at $30,000 without conditions.