Soul of a New Machine:
A turnaround on the horizon for Eagan's Skyline Medical

Skyline Medical staff show off the company's Streamway product. In the back row left to right: Dave Dauwalter, Dave Johnson and Trenton Phipps. In the front: Rod Schmidt, Bob Myers, Bill Schiesl, Jerry McConnell, and Jodi Schauer
Traquan Jackson

Minneapolis man arrested in Eagan outlet mall holiday theft spree

   One thing you can say about Skyline Medical: It doesn’t give up easily.
   The company has seen its share of highs and lows, particularly if you look at its stock chart. The Eagan firm has been classified as one of the more volatile stocks on the Nasdaq, an exchange full of volatile stocks. In September 2013, the stock traded at $748.13 a share. More recently, a share of Skyline sold for less than $1.50. There have been threats to de-list the stock, remove it from its stock exchange when the price sinks too low, but somehow, Skyline has come through.
   “This company would make a great mini-series,” Chief Financial Officer Bob Myers said.
   At the core of Skyline’s business is Streamway, a patented, FDA-approved product that could revolutionize the collection and disposal of medical waste—fluids from patients in hospital operating rooms. Many medical facilities currently rely on a canister-based system where fluids are collected in containers that must be swapped out, often during the course of a procedure. Fluids can spill or splash, posing a risk to healthcare workers, particularly if the patient has an infectious disease.
   Skyline Medical is seeking to change that, with a closed disposal system that whisks fluids away without the need to change canisters or risk exposure to infectious disease. Along the way, the fluids could be screened for signs of disease. So, for example, while you’re having a routine procedure, your fluids could be screened for signs of cancer or other disease.
   Even a revolutionary product can be a slow sale in the medical market. There are long sales cycle typically requiring approval on many levels. After years of challenges, Myers is confident the firm is heading in the right direction and praised the company’s employees for seeing it through. “We have a tremendously loyal staff,” Myers said.
   What inspires such loyalty? “In the first place, we all believe in the product,” Myers said. “It’s top of the line.”
   With a marketing strategy and new sales executive in place, the company is heading into 2018 optimistic about its future, according to Myers. Earlier this week, the company’s stock climbed about 8 percent following the announcement of an agreement with a precision diagnostics company.
   “It is a turnaround story,” Myers said. “It’s been a long turnaround.”   
      A Minneapolis man is in Dakota County jail after he allegedly stole from the Eagan outlet mall and tried to flee police.
      Traquan Jackson, 22, of 2814 Emerson Ave., N., Minneapolis, was charged with two felony counts: theft and fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle, according to a criminal complaint.
      Police were called to the outlet mall shortly after 6 p.m. on Dec. 23 on a report of two people stealing from a store, according to court records. Police were given a description of the two suspects and had a photo of one of them. A police officer spotted the men leaving a store. When he approached them, one of the men, identified as Jackson, began to run from the police officer, according to the criminal complaint.
      The suspect continued to run to the parking lot after the police officer ordered him to stop, according to police. When the officer found Jackson in a car, the officer opened the driver’s side door and ordered Jackson to stop. Jackson then closed the door, slammed on the gas and backed out of the parking space, barely missing the police officer. Jackson continued to drive off, according to police, narrowly missing several other cars and pedestrians.
      Police stopped the car Jackson was driving on Cedar Avenue. Inside the car, police found about $1300 in suspected stolen merchandise, a pair of brass knuckles, marijuana, and a digital scale.
      Jackson has a prior conviction for gross misdemeanor theft in Dakota County, according to court records.

Woman charged in Eagan real estate closing swindle

      A Burnsville woman is facing a felony charge based on allegations she submitted a fraudulent down payment check for a $1.1 million home at a closing in Eagan in September 2014, according to court records.
      Laura Whalen, 51, of 643 E. Burnsville Pkwy., Burnsville, was charged with a felony count of theft by representation, according to a criminal complaint. The charge stems from an investigation by the Minnesota Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau.
      Whalen, who worked in real estate, was acting as an agent for herself and her husband in the purchase of a home in Prior Lake. The contract for deed required a $367,000 down payment, with the remaining $763,000 to be paid in a series of payments on the contract. To qualify for the sale, investigators allege, Whalen produced a document showing balances of $793,000 in four bank accounts.
      At the closing, Whalen told the closing officer she had left the certified check for down payment on the photocopier at her office. The closing agent continued the closing, indicating she could stop by Whalen’s office to pick up the check, according to court records. The title company disbursed about $330,000 at the closing: $93,000 to the seller’s mortgage company, $213,000 to the seller, and $23,000 to the seller’s real estate agent.
      As the closing agent was on her way to Whalen’s office to pick up the check, she received an email from Whalen that the mail carrier had picked up the check from her office. When contacted, the mail carrier did not find a check in the mail he had picked up from the office, according to court documents.
      The closing agent then tried to track the check through the bank. The bank informed her the check was fraudulent and that the check number had already been used in a different transaction for a different amount.
      Investigators allege the document Whalen presented purportedly showing bank balances was also fraudulent. The title company changed the locks on the property to prevent Whalen and her husband from moving in, according to court documents.
      Whalen is scheduled to appear in Dakota County court on Feb. 5.

Murderer gets two life sentences

Convicted murderer Vern Mouelle
   A Brooklyn Park man was sentenced to two life prison terms after a Dakota County jury convicted him of the murder of his pregnant girlfriend.
   Vernon Mouelle, 24, of 9229 Trinity Gardens, Brooklyn Park, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder after about four hours of jury deliberations on Monday, Dec. 18. The victims, Senicha Marie Lessman, 24, and her unborn child, were found by Lessman’s mother on Jan. 24, 2017, when she went to her daughter’s apartment in the Alden Woods development in Eagan to take her to a doctor’s appointment. Lessman was eight months pregnant at the time of the killing.
   Lessman died of a severed carotid artery and an obstructed airway, according to court records. Investigators believe Mouelle killed Lessman with a knife he bought at the Eagan Walmart earlier that day. Police found the knife in a dresser drawer at the home Mouelle shared with his parents, according to court records.
 Woman arrested trying to cash check at bank

   A Fridley woman is facing a felony charge following her arrest while trying to cash an alleged forged check at an Eagan bank.
   Azmeny Cage, 23, of 6021 Main St. NE #3, Fridley, was charged with a single felony count of offering a forged check, according to a criminal complaint. Eagan police were called to an unidentified local bank shortly before 3:30 p.m. Dec. 20 for a fraud in progress. The manager of the bank recognized Cage from an email alert sent out by one of its other branches regarding an attempt to cash what appeared to be a forged check at the other bank, according to court records.
   Police allege Cage tried to cash a fraudulent $2,657.11 check from a Texas company at the Eagan bank. Officers spoke to a manager of the Texas company to confirm the check was fraudulent, according to court records.
   Cage had opened an account at the bank on Dec. 11 using a Chicago address, the criminal complaint said. She was being held at the Dakota County jail following her arrest.

Making it snow: City Council approves millions in less than 15 minutes

Azmeny Cage
   In less than 15 minutes, the Eagan City Council spent millions of taxpayer dollars in its final meeting of the year Dec. 19. On a consent agenda that requires no public discussion and one single vote to approve dozens of items, the city council approved plans for a $17 million renovation to city hall and the police department, as well as pay raises and promotions for city employees.
   With its unanimous vote on the consent agenda, city councilors also approved a break for developers of the Vikings’ complex, removing a condition that would restrict residential development at the Northeast Eagan site.
   As part of the mass approval, the city council also approved a $500,000 cash infusion to its Access Eagan project, a broadband network available only to businesses. The money was to be transferred from the city’s public utilities fund.
   Four firefighters were promoted to fire captains and city employees were granted a three percent raise. Although the city council couldn’t raise the city administrator’s nearly $177,000 annual salary because of a state salary cap, the council did vote to pay his medical, dental, and legal insurance and look for other ways to compensate him, such as providing more vacation time.
   About the only person who didn’t benefit from the city council’s Christmas consent agenda was a homeowner who appealed the city’s decision to allow a neighbor to build a massive solar installation next to her house. The council voted to let the solar panels stand.