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Man jailed for 'illegal flea market' in Brainerd slowly cleans yard

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Chad Ross gets to be out of jail for six hours a day. He heads home – and works on cleaning up his yard.

Ross has been in jail since Feb. 27 for failing to clean up an "illegal flea market" that's taken over his Brainerd yard, Forum News Service reports. It's a giant collection of stuff that's for sale – some of it his, some of it from friends, some of it simply left there by others – that he'd been given multiple deadlines to get cleaned up, the publication reports.

After missing two of those dates (Dec. 20 and then Feb. 12) Ross was taken to jail. He's scheduled for release on March 28, as long as his property on Pine Drive is clean. If not, it's back behind bars, Forum says.

This started in early August, the Brainerd Dispatch reported. Ross took a few items his neighbor was going to throw away, then put them up for sale in his yard along with a few of his own possessions, the paper reported.

Then the "For Sale" pile grew. Quickly. He began picking up items left out on the curb, the Dispatch said; family members added trinkets; some people left objects overnight.

The collection ballooned, and by September he was on Brainerd's radar by way of zoning violations. By early September Ross had garnered $1,500 in fines. When initially confronted, Ross said he was trying to help the community by recycling things other people may not have the time or money to properly dispose of.

The pile continued to expand, and in November Ross pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of storage of junk and debris in Crow Wing District Court, the Brainerd Dispatch reported. All the fines against him ($6,000 at that point) were also dismissed.

That came with a condition: Have the property clean by Dec. 20, and keep it clean for three years.

The mess was still there come Dec. 20, so the city gave him another deadline, Feb. 12, the paper said. Once again, Ross missed the deadline.

Two weeks later he was in jail. He was sentenced on three counts of storage of junk and debris, and is in custody at Crow Wing County jail.

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