A former sheriff of Chisago County pleaded guilty to harassment and misconduct of a public officer on Thursday, Oct. 22, according to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

The Anoka County Attorney’s Office charged Richard Duncan of Chisago City in December 2018 for acts that occurred in October and November of 2017, during which Duncan was Chisago County Sheriff. According to the charges, Duncan repeatedly contacted a sheriff’s office employee with inappropriate and threatening messages while using a pseudonym.

The Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and Anoka County Attorney’s Office handled the investigation and subsequent prosecution. Duncan’s sentence is two years of jail time, which he has already served, and four years of probation, during which he cannot possess a firearm.

“We are grateful that we could resolve the case in this manner, a resolution which was supported by the victim, in an effort to allow her to obtain closure after nearly three years,” Anoka County Attorney’s Office Criminal Division Chief Wade Kish said in a press release. “This case is an unfortunate example of an elected official abusing his position of power. We are committed to holding public officials accountable for their behavior to ensure credibility of the justice system.”

According to the criminal complaint, between Oct. 26 and Nov. 3, 2017, Duncan engaged in a pattern of stalking an adult female employee of the Sheriff’s Department. In her role as crime analyst, the victim would meet on a weekly basis with Duncan to go over crime statistics as well as posting on social media for the Sheriff’s Department. In October of 2017, Duncan spoke to the employee and told her he had received letters from someone calling themselves “Control Freak.” Two letters had been sent already, and the third letter was what they discussed at the meeting. The third letter claimed “Control Freak” knew where the employee lives and that she was married with children, and asked the employee and Duncan to attend a law enforcement training in Bemidji and stay in the same hotel room.

The employee later told police Duncan asked her if she could make time to go to the training, and suggested they play along to draw the letter writer out.

A fifth alleged letter addressed to both Duncan and the employee, allegedly received by Duncan, “Control Freak” once again instructed the two to attend the training in Bemidji, what type of room to reserve, and indicated a specific route and what type of clothing to bring. In this alleged letter and the the sixth alleged letter, “Control Freak” indirectly threatens to harm the employee and her family if she does not go along with the directives.

According to the complaint, the employee became afraid for herself and her family, she said, due to Duncan’s response to the alleged letters. Then on Nov. 2, the employee met with the defendant at his office on Nov. 2, and said she would not go to the training. On Nov. 3, the employee received a text from Duncan saying he had received another letter, which called everything off. According to the complaint, police also contacted the Country Inn and Suites in Bemidji and found Duncan had made reservations for a single room with a king size bed for the dates of the training, but later canceled the reservation. The employee then reported the events to personnel in Chisago County Sheriff’s Department, who in turn referred her to the County Human Resources Department. An internal investigation was conducted into the victim’s allegations.

The first deposition was canceled by Duncan at the last minute due to an alleged family emergency.

Prior to the second deposiion, the internal investigator received an email from Duncan’s civil attorney, which was forwarded email from Duncan. In the email, Duncan said; “I, and only I, am the source of the emails and text messages in regard to the current inquiry.” Shortly after, he resigned as Chisago County Sheriff.

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