ROSEVILLE MAYOR IS CLEARED - JUDGE DISMISSES MISCONDUCT, CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST CHARGES
Marisa Agha, Pioneer Press
March 26, 2003

A Ramsey County judge dismissed official misconduct and conflict-of-interest charges against Roseville Mayor John Kysylyczyn on Tuesday.

Citing "insufficient probable cause," Judge Marybeth Dorn tossed out both gross misdemeanor counts. Kysylyczyn had been charged with the crimes after voting with the council majority in June to pay his own legal bill in an unrelated matter.

Kysylyczyn could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but his defense attorney, Richard Kyle, said his client was pleased with the outcome. The mayor has long said the investigation was the work of his political enemies.

"I think the court carefully analyzed the case," Kyle said. "Fortunately, she accepted most of our arguments. ... The mayor's delighted with the court's ruling. He's looking forward to focusing on city business from here on out."

In her order, Dorn wrote that a key point was that the mayor and the city did not have a contract for hiring the mayor's attorney. Because there was no contract, Kysylyczyn's participation in the vote might have constituted a "conflict of interest," but not a criminal one, Dorn wrote in the ruling.

"Though his vote in this matter may form the basis for invalidation of the council's action and/or the recovery of monies paid, Kysylyczyn's vote cannot support a criminal charge ... because a prohibited contract with the city did not exist," she wrote.

As for the second count, centering on misconduct, the judge wrote that Kysylyczyn would not be considered a public official under the law cited because Roseville is a city of fewer than 50,000 residents.

White Bear Lake City prosecutor Robb Olson, who inherited the case from his partner, Doug Meslow, said he was disappointed in the judge's decision, but will have to review the decision and contact the city of Roseville to see if it wants to appeal.

"I thought we had made a reasonable argument," Olson said Tuesday. "We kind of applied the reasonable person standard."

Olson said that he agrees with Dorn's decision on the second count, but he lamented inconsistency in state law as it defines public officials in different-size cities on conflict-of-interest allegations.

Meslow charged Kysylyczyn, 31, in September after a five-week investigation by the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department. The $8,532 legal bill at the center of the case stemmed from an earlier ethics complaint filed by a citizen. In that case, the city's ethics commission found insufficient evidence.

Meslow, now a state representative, took on the case when the law firm that handles Roseville's prosecutions said it had a conflict of interest. The criminal case grew out of citizen Lillian Chiarella's complaint to the city's ethics commission. The Ethics Commission forwarded the criminal aspect of Chiarella's complaint to prosecutors before its abrupt dissolution by the City Council in July.

Chiarella said Tuesday that she had no regrets about filing her original complaint.

"To say the least, I'm disappointed," Chiarella said. "I did it because I thought he violated the ethics code of the city, and I still think he did."

Council Member Tom Kough was pleased to hear Tuesday the case was behind the mayor and the city.

"I guess I'm happy for the mayor," Kough said. "I don't like to see anybody in trouble with the court."

Marisa Agha can be reached at magha@pioneerpress.com.

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