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Suspect's arrest delayed for months

Construction continues at the Prime Therapeutics site near the new Vikings headquarters in northeast Eagan.
William McArdle
    The suspect in a horrific child pornography case was on the loose for three months before Eagan police sought a warrant for his arrest, according to court documents.
   William McArdle, 46, of 2754 Mallard Drive, Woodbury, was ordered held in lieu of $40,000 cash bail at the Dakota County jail on Monday, November 13. He is charged with 14 felony counts of possession of child pornography. Each count relates to a separate child, identified only by number in the criminal complaint.
   The charges stem from the August 10 discovery, in a Coachman Road apartment from which McArdle had been evicted, of a computer containing thousands of images of child pornography, according to court records. McArdle was evicted from the apartment on July 7, the complaint said. He left items in the apartment, but the computer wasn’t reported to police until August 10.
   Investigators found more than 2,700 files on the computer containing what they suspected was child pornography. The files were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which identified pictures and videos of 151 different children.
   The descriptions of the images contained on the suspect’s computer, detailed in court documents, are disturbing and violent. The fourteen counts against McArdle involve victims of varying ages, from infants to pre-teenagers.
   Eagan police requested a nationwide arrest warrant after police were unable to find McArdle following the search of the computer from his former apartment, according to court documents. Eagan police released no information about his arrest, nor any bulletins to the public while they were unable to locate him. The police department did not respond to a request for information about the case.
   The area where McArdle was living, Coachman Road, is full of young children and families. There are several apartment complexes and townhouse developments on the street, as well as single-family homes and a daycare center. 

County undercover bust yields 4 kilos of meth 

   In another major methamphetamine arrest in Dakota County, a West St. Paul woman was charged with a felony after she allegedly sold 4 kilograms of methamphetamine to an undercover police officer.
   In addition to the nearly 16 pounds of methamphetamine, police seized about 14 pounds of cocaine during the operation, according to Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie. While the amount of drugs found was substantial, Leslie said, "Unfortunately, this will only be a temporary setback [in the local drug trade.] The flow is consistently large right now."
   Tami Tuthill, 47, 2050 Delaware Ave. #449, W. St. Paul, was arrested on a charge of first-degree sale of methamphetamine, a felony punishable by up to 40 years in prison, according to court records.
   The arrest stemmed from a federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and West Metro Drug Task Force investigation into what police described as a “large-scale illegal drug operation in Dakota County. As part of the investigation, an undercover police officer arranged for the purchase of ten pounds of methamphetamine, according to court records.
   Police then met Tuthill near her apartment complex in West St. Paul on Nov. 6. Tuthill, according to police, brought a plastic bin to the undercover officer’s car. The bin contained 10 plastic bags that weighed more than 4 kilograms, according to court records. One of the bags field-tested positive for methamphetamine, according to police.
   Police then searched Tuthill’s apartment, according to a criminal complaint and allegedly found a digital scale and more suspected drugs.

   Dakota County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Fletcher, who recently completed a 3-year assignment with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reiterated the sheriff's concerns that, while substantial, the latest seizure was "a drop in the bucket."
   Dakota County has been particularly hard hit with drug trafficking because of its location on the I-35 corridor. I-35 provides a direct route from drug labs and manufacturing facilities in Mexico.
   "The I-35 corridor is key," Fletcher said, explaining that traffickers can transport large quantities of drugs in vehicles up the highway.
   But supply meets demand, which he said is high in the area.
   "Until we figure out a way to fix our demand problem," Fletcher said, "we're basically just playing whack-a-mole."

Federal judge orders U.S. Bank to produce documents in race discrimination lawsuit

   A former U.S. Bank manager suing the company for racial discrimination won a partial victory in federal court this week in a dispute over whether the bank must produce records related to its treatment of top business customers.
   At issue were documents related to transfers between customer accounts in which the bank did not require the customer’s signature. The bank claimed that such transfers were only allowed to correct errors, but the former manager suing the bank argued that he was trained to perform such transfers to help customers considered among the bank’s most valuable “Tier 1” business customers.
   The former manager, Antonio Amador, sued U.S. Bank after he was discharged, allegedly for compliance concerns related to such transactions and for continuing to serve a client who had transferred from the bank’s Midway branch to the Eagan Town Center branch. In filing the lawsuit, the manager argued that white managers performed such transfers without being fired, according to court records, and he was treated differently because he is Hispanic.
   To help prove his point, Amador, who had worked for the bank from 2011 to 2015, requested the bank produce, as part of the discovery process, all of its records related to such transactions, according to court records. The bank balked, arguing such discovery would be like searching for a needle in a haystack and require too much time and effort.
   In a compromise, the bank sent questionnaires to 12 branch managers asking if they had used the questioned documents, known as Cash Advice Debits or CAD slips, to transfer money between customer accounts in a similar fashion. Two managers who responded they had, have since been promoted by the bank, according to the judicial opinion in the case.
   Based on the information revealed in the questionnaires, the plaintiff requested more documents from the bank, but the bank argued it would be too burdensome to look for them. A federal magistrate sided with the bank. On appeal to U.S. District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson, the court ruled that, even giving “extreme deference” to the magistrate’s denial of the plaintiff’s request for the documents, some of them would have to be turned over.
   “Respectfully, this Court finds that the magistrate judge’s denial of Plaintiff’s motion to compel in its entirety was in error,” Judge Nelson wrote. “[T]his court finds that requiring [U.S. Bank] to search for, and produce, any CAD slips contained in a limited number of accounts is not disproportionate to the needs of the case.”
   “[T]he landscape is much different now. Contrary to Defendant’s [U.S. Bank’s] initial position, discovery has revealed that additional employees used CAD slips to transfer money between the accounts of customers who were not present at a specific branch at the time of the transaction. And what is more, some evidence suggests that the practice may not be confined to managers only, but may extend to assistant managers as well. In light of this information, the parties are no longer looking for a needle in the haystack of 135 bank branches, but are rather looking at only one branch—Southdale—with confirmed instances of CAD slip usage not related to teller error,” Judge Nelson wrote.   
Hotel heroin overdose suspect pleads guilty 

      An Eagan man admitted he knew a man was suffering a heroin overdose in his hotel room last August, but delayed calling 911 while he delivered a prescription to his girlfriend and removed guns and drugs from the room before police came, according to a plea agreement filed in federal court.
     Jared Ruhl, 37, who was living at the Quality Inn at 1950 Rahncliff Court at the time of the fatal overdose, is expected to be sentenced to 12 to 15 years in federal prison, according to his plea agreement, pending a presentencing investigation. Ruhl pleaded guilty to three of six charges in a federal indictment: possession with intent to distribute heroin, unlawful possession of a firearm, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Ruhl was prohibited from carrying a firearm because of a 2000 kidnapping conviction, according to the court.
     Under the terms of the plea deal, federal prosecutors dropped some of the most serious charges in the indictment: conspiracy to distribute heroin, distribution of heroin, and possession of ammunition by a felon.  
     In the plea agreement, Ruhl admitted to providing heroin to two men in his Eagan hotel room on the morning of Aug. 28, 2016, in an apparent celebration of the overdose victim’s release from the Hennepin County Workhouse that day. The man who overdosed, Nicholas Mercado, 37, had been on three years’ probation for a drug charge, during which time he had been ordered to refrain from alcohol and drug use, according to court records.
     “The Defendant admits that shortly after [the overdosed man] snorted the heroin [he] went to the bathroom and collapsed in or near the doorway to the bathroom,” the plea agreement stated. “The Defendant admits that shortly after [the overdosed man] collapsed, [Ruhl] realized [the man] was suffering a drug overdose…Rather than immediately calling 911, the Defendant began carrying items containing incriminating evidence out of the hotel room and stashing those items in his vehicle parked in the hotel parking lot.”
     Ruhl then left the hotel room with the third man to deliver a prescription to Ruhl’s girlfriend. When they returned to the hotel room, they noticed Mercado was cold. They called 911 three to four hours after the man initially collapsed, according to court records.
     During the 911 call, Ruhl continued removing incriminating evidence from the hotel room and taking it to his car, the plea agreement said. Ruhl then sent his girlfriend a text asking her to come take the car from the parking lot.
     Ruhl admitted to having 11 grams of heroin, divided into single-gram portions for sale, which he moved from the hotel room to the car, according to court records.  He also admitted to moving four guns. During the 18 months before the overdose, he admitted to having between 8 and 25 guns, according to court records.
     The plea agreement follows a ruling last summer allowing statements Ruhl made when questioned by Eagan police to be used in court. Ruhl’s attorneys had argued that Eagan police questioned Ruhl without reading his Miranda rights against self-incrimination. A federal judge ruled he was not in police custody at the time.
     Prosecutors have also filed a request that property in the case, four guns, be forfeited to the government.   

Veterans Day sharpens divide against NFL

  As Eagan prepares for the move of the Minnesota Vikings to a new headquarters in the city, the national momentum for a Veterans Day boycott of the National Football League continued to grow.
     Across social media, military and veterans’ groups were urging their followers to boycott the Nov. 12 NFL games and not buy any NFL merchandise. The boycott is a reaction to NFL player protests during the playing of the National Anthem at football games and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s refusal to take disciplinary action against players who protest. Since the first player took a knee during the national anthem in 2015, the league’s television ratings have dropped as much as 25 percent, according to media reports.
     The veterans’ protest adds another group to list of those who have protested the behavior and conduct of the NFL:  women’s groups, Native Americans, and even its own players who alleged mistreatment by the league for its handling of concussive injuries. The veterans’ protests put city and local business officials in a precarious position of balancing the support of veterans with what they perceive will be an advantageous economic asset for the city of Eagan.
     Across the country, Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts have been cancelling their NFL television subscriptions and urging members to boycott the football league and its extensive merchandising.
     In Eagan, meanwhile, Dakota County Chamber of Commerce and city officials have been rallying local support for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings franchise. The Vikings logo has cropped up virtually everywhere in Eagan, restaurants, the new grocery store, schools and even the dentist’s office.
   The city’s tourism bureau has placed billboards as far south as Faribault heralding the team’s move of its training camp from Mankato to Eagan. Although NFL franchises have 70-mile restrictions on advertising, NFL “partners” which feature team mascots and logos in their advertising, have no such restrictions.   
     There is no discussion of the boycott on the Vikings’ website. Instead, the website, which includes carefully curated content of team news, features a story about the construction project manager of the new Eagan headquarters, a Viet Nam veteran.
     In a promotional gesture to veterans, the team hosted a breakfast at an Eagan grocery store and hosted a trip to Washington, D.C. for five team-chosen veterans to see the Vikings play the Washington Redskins, a team that itself has been the subject of protests by Native Americans who consider the team name and logo racist and offensive.