Opponent to ballpark is charged with writing threatening letters

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 5, 2008 - 8:10 PM

A Golden Valley man faces four harassment counts for letters to Hennepin County commissioners. Fingerprints on mail match those found in his home, a complaint says.

A Golden Valley man who allegedly sent several anonymous threatening letters to four Hennepin County commissioners who voted for a publicly financed Minnesota Twins ballpark has been charged with four counts of harassment.

Steven G. Wellens, 53, a onetime candidate for county commissioner, did not return a call to his home Tuesday.

In November, Wellens denied to Robbinsdale police that he knew anything about the letters. But on Nov. 27, a search of his home and vehicle yielded saliva and fingerprint samples that the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension recently deemed matched those collected from the mailings, a Hennepin County complaint filed Monday said.

The search also yielded a 9-mm Glock handgun, which Wellens has a permit to carry, as well as a handwritten note that read, "Have you ever heard the phrase 'Death to tyrants?'"

Wellens was first identified as the possible sender after the BCA found his fingerprint on one of the mailings, the complaint said.

Board Chairman Randy Johnson received the letters, as did Commissioners Peter McLaughlin, Mike Opat and Mark Stenglein. Wellens ran unsuccessfully against Stenglein in 2006 on a platform of reversing the decision to build a new ballpark.

The first of the anonymous letters was sent Nov. 13, 2006. It read, "Stealing is wrong." A month later, a second letter read, "What do you do to someone who steals from you?"

A letter in April read, "Does the word justice frighten you?" The final letter in October 2007 read, "Judgment day is coming."

All the letters were typewritten and sent to the commissioners' home addresses and bore a return address from another commissioner, the complaint said.

McLaughlin said he doesn't mind criticism, "But this is crossing the line. This isn't Guatemala. You're not in political office having to fear for your family." He said he was glad the matter is in the hands of Tom Fabel, special assistant city attorney for Robbinsdale, Bloomington and Minneapolis.

Stenglein and McLaughlin live in Minneapolis. Johnson lives in Bloomington, and Opat in Robbinsdale.

Stenglein and Johnson didn't return phone calls. Opat declined to comment.

Wellens is expected to make his first appearance in court today. He is not in custody.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747

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