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MINNESOTA ROUNDUP: U of M lifts ban of student after Facebook flap, Red Lake man pleads guilty etc.

U of M lifts ban over

Facebook postings

MINNEAPOLIS -- A University of Minnesota student who was banned from the Twin Cities campus after her instructors felt threatened by some of her Facebook postings is being allowed back.

Amanda Tatro was patted down and questioned by police when she got to class Monday.

The 29-year-old mortuary science student had posted comments on her Facebook page saying she wanted to stab a "certain someone in the throat" with an embalming instrument. She told police she was just venting because she was upset over breaking up with her boyfriend.

The university's Office of Student Conduct ruled in her favor Wednesday. She can return to class and will get to retake any missed exams.

Tatro's latest Facebook status update reads: "I DID IT! I am back in school as of tomorrow ... THANK YOU ALL."

Red Lake man pleads guilty

DULUTH -- A 27-year-old Red Lake man has pleaded guilty to killing a passenger in his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

Appearing on Tuesday before U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank in Duluth, Donald Joseph Sumner Jr. pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter in connection to the incident, which occurred Sept. 18. Sumner was indicted Nov. 18.

In his plea agreement, Sumner admitted killing Daniel DeFoe without malice while recklessly driving on the Red Lake Reservation. Sumner faces a potential maximum penalty of eight years in prison for his crime. Sentencing will be at a future date.

Frank will determine his sentence at a future date.

Attorney posts bail

in sex assault case

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minneapolis attorney accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy has posted bail set at $500,000.

Aaron Biber was released from the Hennepin County Jail early Wednesday.

Assistant Hennepin County attorney Judy Johnston argued in court for a high bail, saying Biber was a "danger to the community."

The Star Tribune reports Biber was suspended Monday from his role as treasurer of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He has been placed on leave from his law firm, Gray Plant Mooty.

A criminal complaint said the 46-year-old attorney got the boy drunk and had sex with him, sent him explicit text messages and pursued the boy for a sexual relationship.

Man gets life

for fatal shooting

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Minneapolis man has been sentenced to life in prison with no parole for fatally shooting a young woman in 2006.

Calvin Ferguson, 26, was found guilty Monday of first-degree murder and second-degree intentional murder in Hennepin County District Court.

Assistant County Attorney Andrew Lefevour said Ferguson had ordered someone else to kill 22-year-old Irene Burks, but after that person failed to do it, Ferguson killed her himself as she walked to a friend's house in September 2006.

Union backs DFL

legislator opponent

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's dominant state employee union is backing a challenger to longtime Democratic state Rep. Gene Pelowski after he opposed a $1 billion tax bill.

AFSCME Council 5 has endorsed Winona City Council member Debbie White in her first statewide run.

A union official said Pelowski treated his constituents "with contempt" by voting no on tax increases for the wealthy, alcohol and credit card companies. Pelowski was also one of two House Democrats who voted against overriding Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto of the bill.

Pelowski did not seek AFSCME's endorsement.

He is serving his 12th term representing a district that includes Winona and La Crescent.

AFSCME stands for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Officer acquitted on

domestic charge

ST. PAUL -- A St. Paul police officer has been acquitted on a domestic assault charge after his wife recanted.

A Ramsey County jury returned its verdict Wednesday after about two hours of deliberations.

Lisa Rinehart told police in June that her husband, officer Isaac Rinehart, had assaulted her. She had broken bones in her face and a broken rib.

But the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports she testified Tuesday that she had harmed herself by letting a heavy door close on her. She said she was upset because her husband had revealed having some affairs.

Isaac Rinehart's future with the department remains uncertain. The former K-9 officer remains on unpaid leave. Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Schnell said the department will now conduct an internal investigation.

Authorities arrest

man in pot bust

WAITE PARK -- Authorities have arrested a Waite Park man and confiscated more than $550,000 worth of high-grade marijuana.

Stearns County Sheriff John Sanner said the Central Minnesota Drug and Gang Task Force had been investigating for two months on tips from the Montana Highway Patrol and other sources.

Tuesday, investigators found 146 pounds of marijuana at a storage facility in Sartell. Sanner said it has a street value of $3,800 to $4,000 a pound. It was individually packaged in 1-pound vacuum sealed bags. Authorities believe it came from Canada.

Then, officers searched a home in Waite Park where they found $22,000 in cash, a rifle and a handgun.

The 48-year-old suspect was arrested at his job Tuesday and is being held pending drug charges.

Census bureau

to hire 1,000 workers

MINNEAPOLIS -- The U.S. Census Bureau needs to hire about 1,000 temporary workers between now and next spring to help with the census count.

The positions will be in the Shakopee area and surrounding counties.

Officials say there will be openings for recruiters, crew leaders, field supervisor, census takers and census clerks. The amount of pay depends on the position and location. Workers will be reimbursed for work-related mileage.

The U.S. Census is taken every 10 years, and the next one is coming up in 2010. Population figures are used to apportion House seats and distribute federal aid.

Education stimulus

bid hits snag

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota's pursuit of a slice of $4.3 billion in federal education money was complicated Wednesday by pressure from the statewide teachers union for the state to change its proposal in order to land its support.

Tom Dooher, president of the Education Minnesota union, said the state Department of Education's current draft proposal would result in "more bureaucracy, more top-down control from the state into our local school districts and more testing at the expense of great teaching."

States have until Jan. 19 to apply for "Race to The Top" funding that will be awarded to those that promote ways to recruit and keep effective teachers, track student performance and adopt plans for turning around failing schools. Minnesota stands to attract $175 million to $250 million if its proposal for school innovation is accepted, but stakeholder backing is among the factors considered.

The biggest flashpoint in Minnesota is how student achievement -- mostly measured through test results -- will be used in determining teacher pay and job security.

States expect to hear by April whether they'll receive grant money.