Pulkrabek settles, charged with disorderly conduct

A court case that started last summer with a misdemeanor domestic assault charge against Washington County Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek ended Wednesday with an amended charge of disorderly conduct.

Chisago County Judge John McBride heard the case, to avoid any conflict of interest in Washington County, and accepted the amended charge.

Pulkrabek, 42, faced 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine for the original charge after he allegedly assaulted his former girlfriend Jill Samuelson on May 30, 2011. The couple reportedly got into an argument about his alcohol use after Samuelson went to pick up her cat at his townhome in Woodbury last Memorial Day.

The criminal complaint alleges that during the argument, Pulkrabek pressed his right forearm across Samuelson's neck, hindering her ability to breathe, and later grabbed her hair and dragged her down the stairs and out the front door.

Pulkrabek pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor domestic assault charge.

'Alford plea' instead of trial
In court Wednesday, Pulkrabek entered an "Alford plea," to the disorderly conduct charge, said his attorney Ryan Kaess.

According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch website, a defendant who makes an "Alford plea" settles with the court, although he does not admit guilt to the charge.

"In an Alford plea, (a) defendant has to admit that he has reviewed the state's evidence, a reasonable jury could find him guilty, and he wants to take advantage of a plea offer that has been made," according to the site.

"My client maintains his innocence," Kaess said after the hearing. "He's glad this is behind him."

Pulkrabek will pay a $200 fine plus court costs and have one year of court probation, during which "he has to remain law-abiding," Kaess said.

Pulkrabek is also required to complete an anger management evaluation. He may have already done so, according to his attorney.

Kaess also said Judge McBride allowed Samuelson 30 days to claim restitution for "any out of pocket damages" from Pulkrabek.

Samuelson has harassment restraining order against Pulkrabek that is in effect until June of 2013. According to court records, Pulkrabek must follow the conditions of the order and not be within 100 yards of Samuelson's residence or 100 feet of her workplace.

"This was a good resolution for my client and he can move on with his life and move on to represent the citizens of Washington County and continue what he wants to do in that regard. I'm happy for him," Kaess said.

Pulkrabek represents District 2 on the Washington County Board, which includes Oakdale, Lake Elmo, Landfall and four precincts in Woodbury, where his townhome is located. Prior to his election to the county board, he was the mayor of Oakdale from 1995 to 1998.

Pulkrabek's term on the county board ends in December 2014.

"I take full responsibility for my lapse in judgment," Pulkrabek said in a prepared statement. "I offer my apology to everyone directly and indirectly involved in this misunderstanding. I made a mistake, and I am sorry. I am glad the distraction of this isolated incident is behind me. With this matter resolved, I look forward to a renewed focus on serving the people of Washington County."

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