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Warren operations superintendent charged with swindling public funds

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WARREN - The second major city government office in Warren, Minn., has gone vacant within the past month.

James Todd Hanson, operations superintendent for the city of about 1,600, recently was put on paid leave pending his prosecution on three felony counts of theft by swindle of city funds.

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On June 15, the city dismissed Administrator C.T. Marhula, citing difficulties with his handling of city employees.

Operations superintendent is a key job for the city because, like a few other northern Minnesota cities, Warren owns its own electrical and natural gas utility, buying the stuff wholesale and selling it retail to residents.

Hanson, 58, needed a certain basic-level certification in order to qualify for a pay increase for overseeing the city's natural gas operation.

The court complaint said Hanson told the sheriff's investigator that he had made up false documents, including a phony signature, showing he had the "gas certificate," in order to collect 50 cents more an hour on his paycheck.

Hanson is scheduled to appear Monday in Marshall County District Court in Warren on the three counts of swindling public funds, which each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and $10,000 fine.

Hanson, who has been in the position about five years, told the investigator he "knows what he did was wrong," the court complaint states. Reached today at his home in Alvarado, Minn., Hanson said he had no comment.

The complaint said the theft began May 7, 2008, and continued until June 12 of this year.

Mayor Bob Kliner said he can't say much about Hanson's case, on the advice of his attorney. Nor would he say much about how the city is dealing with two top supervisors being gone.

Kliner said other city employees are picking up the slack, especially Nancy Holub, who as deputy clerk is the only one of the city's three supervisors who is on the job.

Holub referred all comments about the situation to Kliner.

Kliner said some "outside" help was lined up to step in if the city needed it and that he was doing more than usual in the interim.

Kliner said there's no timeline for hiring a replacement for Marhula, who said today he is appealing his dismissal to the state labor office.

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