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February plea hearing set for Colfax man accused of stealing from railroad museum and Anderson Bridges

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — A plea hearing has been scheduled in February in Dunn County Circuit Court for a 25-year-old Colfax man accused of stealing iron from the Colfax Railroad Museum and from Anderson Bridges.

Donald J. Binder appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court January 13 with his attorney, Joshua Hargrove.

Judge Rod Smeltzer set a plea hearing date for February 9.

Binder was arrested October 20 in connection with the thefts from Anderson Bridges.

According to information from Colfax Police Chief Bill Anderson, while Binder was being interviewed at the Dunn County jail, he admitted to stealing from Anderson Bridges and from the Colfax Railroad Museum.

Earlier in October, Scott Kingzett, tour guide and caretaker at the Colfax Railroad Museum, contacted the Colfax Police Department to report some suspicious activity at the museum.

Kingzett had discovered that metal train parts stored outside at the museum had been moved around and placed in a different location. The movement of the iron pieces seemed to indicate that someone had sorted through the pile of parts and had separated out some of the iron, possibly to come back and take it later, Police Chief Anderson said.

Three days later, on October 11, Beverly Sakalaucks, co-owner of the museum, contacted the Colfax Police Department to report that metal train parts had been stolen from the museum.

Two days later, on Monday, October 13, several recycling and scrap iron businesses were contacted, but none of them recognized those kinds of parts coming in, Police Chief Anderson said.

The next day, Herb Sakalaucks, owner and curator of the Colfax Railroad Museum, reported to the Colfax Police Department that more metal train parts had been stolen.

On October 19, the Colfax Police Department received information about the possible theft of steel pieces from Anderson Bridges in Colfax and also about who might have been involved.

On October 20, the Colfax Police Department followed up on the information and discovered that steel stolen from Anderson Bridges was in the backyard of a residence in the Village of Colfax.

Online court records indicate that Binder has a First Avenue address.

Additional investigation revealed that numerous steel pieces had been stolen from Anderson Bridges over the last few weeks and had been brought to a local recycling business and scrapped, Police Chief Anderson said.

Hiring a machinist to make a replacement train part for the museum would cost between $4,000 and $5,000, Sakalaucks said, compared to the relatively small amount someone would get from selling the item for scrap.

Judge Smeltzer set bail with a $200 signature bond October 21. The bond was later modified to include the condition that Binder have no contact with the Colfax Railroad Museum.

Binder has been charged with theft several times over the past several years.

Judge Smeltzer sentenced Binder to 120 days in jail with credit for 67 days already served for an incident of theft in 2013, withheld sentencing for an incident in April of 2014, and placed Binder on one year of probation.

During a court hearing in June of 2014, Andrew Maki, assistant district attorney, noted that Binder had been ordered to pay $1,085 in restitution that had not been paid.

The plea hearing for Binder is scheduled at 11:15 a.m. February 9.