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Former Tower mayor pleads guilty to official misconduct

He was one of two officials accused of illegally ousting a newspaper publisher from a city commission.

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The former mayor of Tower pleaded guilty this week to a gross misdemeanor charge over his efforts to oust a local newspaper publisher from an economic development board.

Josh Carlson, 37, entered the plea to a charge of misconduct by a public officer at a hearing Wednesday in State District Court in Virginia. Sixth Judicial District Judge Michelle Anderson granted a stay of adjudication, which would allow the conviction to stay off Carlson's record if he remains law-abiding for the next year.

Prosecutors in July charged Carlson and former city clerk-treasurer Linda Keith with illegally removing Timberjay publisher Marshall Helmberger from the Tower Economic Development Authority before the expiration of his term.

Keith was suspended at the time charges were filed. The Timberjay reported in August that Keith later backed out of a severance agreement with the city, resulting in her automatic dismissal and the loss of a "modest cash settlement."

Keith also appeared in court Wednesday but did not enter a plea. She is scheduled to appear again on Oct. 25.

Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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