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New legal trouble for Lake Park mayor

Aaron Wittnebel

Detroit Lakes, MN - The embattled mayor of Lake Park, Aaron Wittnebel, is in trouble with the law again.

A summons has been issued in Becker County District Court for Wittnebel to appear on a misdemeanor charge of driving after revocation.

Wittnebel’s driving privileges have been revoked since May of 2010 stemming from a DWI in Clay County.

According to the complaint filed Monday, Lake Park Police Chief Jay Nelson called dispatch on Thursday, July 17 at 4:43 p.m. after he reportedly witnessed Wittnebel driving a small passenger car in the city of Lake Park.

Nelson reported witnessing Wittnebel driving up to his mother’s house and getting out of the vehicle.

The police chief, who was aware of Wittnebel’s revoked driving privileges, radioed into dispatch.

According to the report, he was notified that Wittnebel’s license was indeed still revoked and the vehicle he was driving was registered to Joe Irby of Detroit Lakes, Wittnebel’s attorney during his felony case of financially exploiting his sister, a vulnerable adult.

Although Wittnebel was  found guilty in that case, he was granted a stay of adjudication, meaning unless he broke the law again, his conviction would not go on his record.

So does the new charge of driving after revocation mean Wittnebel is in violation of his probation?

“That would be up to the judge” said Assistant Becker County Attorney Kevin Miller. “The new file (on the driving after revocation) would have to be resolved first, but once it is, it will be up to the court to decide (whether Wittnebel was violating the terms of his probation).”

To do so would mean his sentence from the felony conviction would go into effect and the city of Lake Park would likely then have the authority to dismiss Wittnebel from his mayoral duties.

This has been a very vocal concern for many in Lake Park, which has held several public meetings to allow city staff and residents to voice any complaints they may have about the mayor.

The police chief, Nelson, who called in Wittnebel’s alleged infraction, recently spoke his mind at one of those meetings.

At a June city council meeting, he told the mayor, “In 2006 I left a department because I could not trust or respect my boss and now in 2014, I am dealing with the same situation with you, and I am not happy.”       Since then, a letter, purportedly from Wittnebel’s mother, has been sent to city leaders and others demanding that those city leaders, including Nelson, apologize to Wittnebel for the things they have said about him, which the letter alleges are untrue.

“Jay made statements about the Mayor’s family (our family) being embarrassed and disappointed, we are not,” said the letter, signed by Wittnebel’s mother, Paula Wittnebel.

Aaron Wittnebel is scheduled for an arraignment on his driving after revocation charge on Aug. 4 at 8:30 a.m.