Small town Iowa mayor, police chief face criminal charges following multiyear investigation

Leaders of a small town in Iowa, including the current mayor and police chief, face nearly two dozen charges after a multiyear investigation into alleged wrongdoing.

The yearslong probe into Armstrong Mayor Greg Buum, police Chief Craig Merrill, city clerk Tracie Lang and former city clerk Connie Thackery found the suspects deployed a Taser against a civilian in exchange for cash, presented fraudulent public records, misappropriated city funds, falsified ledgers to conceal the embezzlement and engaged in other crimes, authorities said Friday.

It was not clear Saturday how much money was taken from the city, which is home to some 945 people and about 150 miles northwest of Des Moines.

Buum, Merrill, Lang and Thackery have been charged with 21 felony and misdemeanor counts, according to the Emmet County Sheriff’s Office, one of the agencies that led the investigation after irregularities in Armstrong were first brought to light in early 2017.

The top count against Buum, Merrill and Thackery is a charge of ongoing criminal conduct, the sheriff’s office said. Lang’s top count is fraudulent practice in the first degree, according to officials.

Three suspects, Buum, Lang and Thackery, were in custody on Friday, the sheriff’s office said.

Merrill was arrested in Minnesota, the Iowa Attorney General’s Office confirmed to NBC News on Sunday. No pleas have been entered by any suspects yet.


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