By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A 24-year-old Colfax man has pleaded no contest and has been found guilty of burglarizing a property owned by state Representative Tom Larson and his wife, Mary, and has been sentenced to two years of probation.
Richard Lipina, 24, of Colfax, pleaded no contest in Dunn County Circuit Court February 18 and was found guilty by the Honorable Frederick Henderson.
Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Andrew Maki told the judge that a plea agreement had been reached with Lipina on an amended complaint of misdemeanor theft and criminal trespass to a dwelling.
Lipina was charged as a party to a crime and originally had been charged with one felony count of burglary.
Jesse Thoms, 22, of Colfax, pleaded no contest in relation to the same incident on January 30 for one misdemeanor count of stealing property valued at less than $2,500 and one misdemeanor count of bail jumping.
Thoms also was placed on two years of probation.
According to the criminal complaint, at around noon on January 15, a man called the Dunn County sheriff’s department to report that he was following a gray Dodge Dakota with a camper on top that was pulling a trailer and was eastbound on state Highway 40.
The man said he suspected the occupants of the Dodge had take items from a residence near Colfax.
The man followed the vehicle into Chippewa County, and Chippewa County deputies eventually pulled over the Dodge Dakota and took the two male occupants into custody.
Prior to calling the sheriff’s department, the man had gone to Tom and Mary Larson’s residence to see if anyone was supposed to be removing items from the other residence where he had observed the Dodge Dakota.
A sheriff’s department investigator responded to the scene of the burglary on 970th Street in the Town of Colfax and observed a vehicle parked in the driveway across the road. The woman in the vehicle identified herself as Mary Larson and said the driveway was her son’s residence and the trailer house across the road belonged to her and her husband, Tom Larson.
Mary Larson told the deputy it appeared that someone had entered the trailer house as well as several small storage sheds.
According to the complaint, the deputy observed that snow had been shoveled out of the driveway as if to allow a vehicle to back into the driveway.
Chippewa County deputies reported that the individuals they had arrested were Jesse Thoms and Richard Lipina, and Dunn County deputies asked that the suspects’ boots be taken to see if they matched the tracks in the driveway.
One deputy visited Thoms’ residence at 408 Cedar Street, and a man and a woman living at 408 1/2 Cedar Street said they had observed the Dodge Dakota and trailer parked there and that it had left around 8 a.m. that morning.
Deputies then contacted Leo and Karen Herrera, Thoms’ parents, and they said Thoms had left earlier in the morning with a friend they knew as “Tony” and thought the two young men were doing some construction work.
Deputies determined that the boots taken from Thoms and Lipina matched the tracks in the driveway at the Tom and Mary Larson property.
Sheriff’s deputies also determined that Thoms had been charged with criminal trespass to a dwelling in August and had been charged in October with theft of movable property, possessing marijuana, possessing drug paraphernalia and bail jumping.
A Colfax police officer had arrested Thoms and Lipina in September for stealing property from Canadian National Railroad in Colfax.
No restitution was requested in relation to the items stolen from the Larson property.
Judge Henderson ordered Lipina to pay $243 in court costs for each of the two counts along with a $10 drug surcharge for each count.
Tom Larson represents the state’s 67th Assembly District.