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Northern Iowa town's mayor, police chief and city clerk arrested

They're charged with multiple crimes, including embezzlement.
Armstrong, Iowa city leaders

A small Iowa town just a few miles south of Minnesota's border has been rocked to the core with the arrest of several high-ranking city officials.

On Friday, the Emmet County Sheriff's Office announced felony and misdemeanor charges against the mayor, police chief, the city clerk and a former city clerk of Armstrong, a city of less than a thousand people.

They're charged with an array of crimes, including "theft, felonious misconduct in office... tampering with records, assault with a dangerous weapon, and falsifying public documents," according to the above news release.

Mayor Greg Buum, City Clerk Tracie Lang and former City Clerk Connie Thackery (pictured above) were arrested Friday; it's not clear if Police Chief Craig Merrill, who was also charged in the investigation, is in custody yet. 

"The investigation uncovered wrongdoing committed by the defendants, including but not limited to misappropriation of city funds, the presentation of fraudulent public records, deploying a TASER against a civilian in exchange for cash, and falsification of ledgers to conceal embezzlement," the release says.

The prosecution will be handled by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office at the request of the local county attorney, to avoid a potential conflict of interest. 

According to the Des Moines Register, "unusual city government behavior in the small city stretches back years," with city officials in 2017 voting to "seize Merrill's computer and taser" and turn it over to the sheriff.

The newspaper also says that state auditors have been unable to account for all the city's finances, partly due to "improper disbursements" and inconsistent record-keeping

Friday's charges and arrests are the result of a "multi-year investigation led by the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the Division of Criminal Investigation and following a special investigation by the Auditor of State’s Office," the release notes.

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