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Colfax Railroad Museum thief sentenced to two years in prison

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A Dunn County judge has sentenced a Colfax man to two years in prison for violating his probation after being found guilty of stealing iron from the Colfax Railroad Museum in October of 2014.

Donald J. Binder, 29, appeared with his attorney, Samantha Richie, for a sentencing hearing before Judge Rod Smeltzer March 26.

Binder pleaded no contest in April of 2015 and was found guilty of one felony count of theft of moveable property valued between $5,000 and $10,000.

A second misdemeanor count of theft of moveable property valued at less than $2,500 for stealing materials from Anderson Bridges in Colfax was dismissed on a prosecutor’s motion.

Binder was sentenced to eight months in jail and three years of probation, and during a sentencing hearing in June of 2015 was ordered to pay $6,950 in restitution to the railroad museum.

At the time of the sentencing hearing in 2015, Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf asked Judge Smeltzer to sentence Binder to two years of initial confinement in state prison and three years of probation because Binder has exhibited a “continual pattern” of theft.

Binder was charged with burglary as a party to a crime along with theft of moveable property worth less than $2,500 related to an incident in January of 2012 and received a deferred prosecution agreement in April of that year.

He was charged with obstructing an officer in April of 2012 and was sentenced to 20 days in jail in June of 2012.

Binder was again charged with theft related to an incident in May of 2013. The charged was dismissed in September of that year.

Binder was found guilty of entry into a locked coin box at the Colfax Laundromat that occurred in June of 2013 and was sentenced to ten days in jail, one year of probation and restitution in January of 2014.

Binder was again charged with theft of moveable property worth less that $2,500 in April of 2014, was ordered to pay restitution of $453, was placed on one year of probation and had probation revoked in December of 2014. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and was given 50 days of credit.


In February of this year, Binder, and David A. Berg, 36, were both charged with Class F felonies of burglary to a building or a dwelling for an incident that occurred in Colfax the evening of December 13, 2017.

According to the criminal complaint in the burglary case, a Colfax resident had contacted the Colfax Police Department about his observation of two male subjects, who were known to be living in the apartment building on First Avenue in Colfax behind Express Mart, possibly entering a residence on Balsam Street.

Officers from the Colfax Police Department attempted to make contact with the residents of the apartment, but were unable to, and were later informed Berg wanted to talk to the officers. Berg told officers Binder had broken into the house on Balsam Street and said Binder had taken change and that Binder had gone into the house with the intent of stealing money, the complaint states.

Binder also is currently charged with one misdemeanor count each of criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct and misdemeanor bail jumping in connection with an incident at the Colfax Laundromat on River Street on December 15, 2017.

According to the criminal complaint, security video showed a man wearing a mask had entered the Laundromat and had started to move and tilt the washing machines as if he were looking for change under or behind them.

The man had tilted several of the washing machines forward, and when he moved one of the washers, the entire front portion had been pulled off. The owner of the Laundromat told a Colfax police officer he had to obtain new screws for the front portion of the washing machine because the screws had been broken when the man moved it, the complaint states.

The Colfax officer said the man in the video was believed to be Donald Binder, known to law enforcement from previous contacts, and who had been seen walking along Main Street the day before wearing the clothes shown in the video.

Train parts

The iron pieces stolen from the Colfax Railroad Museum in 2014, as it turned out, were not simply pieces of scrap iron but were specific parts for restoring train cars.

Binder has not yet paid any of the restitution to the Colfax Railroad Museum.

On the revocation of probation in the Colfax Railroad Museum case, an agent with the Department of Corrections and Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Renee Taber recommended Binder be sentenced to four to six years in prison, with two or three years of initial confinement and two to three years of extended supervision.

Judge Smeltzer sentenced Binder to two years of initial confinement and two years of probation concurrent with 90 days in jail for a conviction in 2017 of entry into a locked coin box at the Colfax Laundromat.

Judge Smeltzer withheld sentencing November 14, 2017, and placed Binder on one year of probation for the misdemeanor locked coin box charge.

Binder’s attorney and the Department of Corrections agent both noted Binder had a significant amount of credit for time served in the Dunn County jail.

Judge Smeltzer granted 368 days of credit for the case involving the railroad museum and 115 days for the most recent locked coin box case.

During the March 26 hearing, Judge Smeltzer converted the court costs and restitution to a civil judgement.

According to online court records, Binder owes a little over $11,500 in court costs and restitution.

Binder is scheduled for another court hearing in Dunn County May 7 on the two felony charges of burglary and bail jumping related to the house on Balsam Street and the criminal damage to property at the Colfax Laundromat.