Melius trial cancelledPublished 10:44am Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Local businessman Ron Melius will not be going to trial for allegedly harassing Fergus Falls Mayor Hal Leland after all.
When two charges of violating a harassment restraining order were filed against him last fall, Melius originally wanted to fight to the finish for acquittal. It is alleged that Melius violated the restraining order Leland has against him two times in September 2011 – once before a Forward Fergus Falls meeting at M State and once at a city council meeting, in which he compared city leadership to deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
However, the Otter Tail County court administration told The Journal Monday that Melius’ court date, which would have been today, has been cancelled. Instead, Melius will file a plea petition for his misdemeanor charges.
A plea petition allows a person to make a plea on a charge or charges without having to appear in court. Since the petition has not been filed, what exactly the plea or the terms of a plea agreement will be remains to be seen. Melius was not available for comment.
Melius, whose wife Karen Dahlstrom owns Dahlstrom Carpet Outlet, is running for the mayoral position currently held by Leland. Leland has not yet filed for the seat (and the last day to file is today), but if he does, Melius would likely have to get the restraining order amended in court in order to attend pre-election functions involving all candidates. As the order stands right now, Melius is not allowed to be in the same place as Leland, including public meetings.
The restraining order against Melius was originally filed in 2009 after Melius reportedly behaved in a harassing way toward Leland, the order’s documents allege. Melius has been unhappy with the way Fergus Falls has been run since 2008, when the city rejected Dahlstrom Carpet Outlet’s bid for a flooring job (Melius believes the rejection was illegal).
Melius is one of five candidates running for the mayor’s spot, along with Pat Connelly, Daryl Synstelien, Jeffrey McSorley, and John Strauch.