LJD case heads to county attorney

By ERIK SANDIN – Stillwater Gazette

The Washington County Attorney’s Office expects to receive the case file next week on an investigation into alleged worthless checks issued by Lumberjack Days organizer Dave Eckberg.

Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton said this morning that department investigators are sending the file to County Attorney Pete Orput’s office.

"The overwhelming bulk of the evidence has been forwarded to the Washington County Attorney’s Office," Hutton said. "The County Attorney will look over the case and see if any follow up is needed."

"We have not gotten the Eckberg case," Orput said, adding that Assistant County Attorney Steve Norton will handle the case once the file reaches the County Attorney’s office.

"Apparently it’s a pretty big file. We’re getting prepared for it," Orput said.

WCSO deputies have spent several months investigating complaints that the Lumberjack Days Festival Association issued worthless checks for more than $35,000 to three vendors and the Stillwater Area High School boys hockey booster club.

Eckberg organized Lumberjack Days and other events through his company, St. Croix Events.

The Stillwater City Council earlier this year cancelled Lumberjack Days and ended its contract with the Lumberjack Days Festival Association, citing unpaid bills, pending litigation and public disapproval as reasons for the decision.

A city official said the Lumberjack Days association owes the city $20,000 for police and fire services at the 2011 festival and St. Croix Events owes more than $7,000 for city services provided for the 2010 and 2011 Stillwater Marathon.

Businesses have contacted Stillwater police and filed complaints in the county against Eckberg and Lumberjack Days, claiming they are owed money for their services.

Hutton said the case involving Eckberg and the Lumberjack Days association was "pretty involved," with multiple victims and "lots of information" his department’s investigators had to sift through.

"Each investigation, the charges may be the same, but the work involved is different," he said.

Hutton also said his investigators could be asked to further investigate depending on the County Attorney’s Office review of the case file.

"They will review it and they may find some additional work that needs to be done," he said.