A former mayor of Tower, Minn., pleaded guilty this week in St. Louis County District Court to a charge of official misconduct related to his efforts to boot newspaper publisher Marshall Helmberger from the Tower Economic Development Authority (TEDA).

Joshua Carlson was charged in July with a gross misdemeanor over allegations that he and former Tower City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith had altered official public records to misstate when Helmberger, owner and publisher of the Timberjay, was appointed to the authority so that it would appear his term had expired when it had not.

Carlson, 37, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Virginia before District Judge Michelle Anderson. She granted a stay of adjudication, which keeps the conviction off Carlson's record if he remains law-abiding for a year. The plea was reported Friday in the Duluth News Tribune.

Keith, who has filed a motion to dismiss the charge, made her initial appearance Wednesday. Her next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25.

According to the criminal complaint, Carlson admitted that he wanted to remove Helmberger, who was president of TEDA, and another member from the development authority last year because he believed that Helmberger had obtained a $125,000 grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board without the City Council's approval.

"It is clear that the official records of the TEDA commission were altered in official forms kept and maintained as well as created by Defendant in her capacity as city clerk for the City of Tower," the complaint says.

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493