The police chief of a small town in north-central Minnesota is facing a criminal charge after reportedly stealing more than $940 worth of an herbal extract from a local business.

In April, Damien R. Stalker, 38, was charged with one gross misdemeanor count of theft in Crow Wing County District Court. His first hearing on the charge is slated for May 10.

Stalker became police chief of Emily, a town of about 880 residents about 30 miles northeast of Brainerd, last June. He had served as assistant police chief since October 2021.

According to court documents, sometime in early February, Stalker took kratom extract valued at $942 from a business. While speaking with an investigator, Stalker admitted to taking the products without payment but "claimed he was going to pay the business back and had an agreement with the business to … pay for it at a later time," documents state.

The manager of the business told the investigator no such agreement existed.

Stalker is listed as representing himself on the case. He could not be reached for comment.

Mayo Clinic describes kratom as a supplement often sold as an energy booster, pain reliever or antidote for opioid withdrawal that is sometimes used at music festivals and other recreational settings. But researchers have said the herbal extract's side effects and safety concerns offset any potential benefits, according to Mayo. Kratom is not considered a controlled substance, but some states have regulations or prohibitions against possession. Kratom is legal in Minnesota but cannot be sold to minors.

At an emergency meeting on March 1, the Emily City Council approved a motion taking disciplinary action against Stalker, who was placed on administrative leave with pay and benefits pending the results of the investigation, according to agenda documents.

On March 10, the council approved temporarily deactivating the police department because it did not have an acting chief with Stalker on leave. During the deactivation, the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office is providing police and emergency response services to the city.

Emily city officials declined to comment on the situation.