Former Tower official's misconduct charge dismissed

The former mayor previously pleaded guilty to his role in a scandal involving the city's economic development board.


A judge on Wednesday dismissed one charge against the former Tower city clerk, who was accused of falsifying documents in order to oust a local newspaper publisher from an economic development board.

Linda Kaye Keith, 46, was charged last July with a gross misdemeanor count of misconduct by a public officer.

Authorities alleged Keith prepared false meeting minutes after the Tower City Council voted in January 2018 to remove Timberjay newspaper publisher Marshall Helmberger from the Tower Development Authority, appoint a new member in his place and change term expiration dates for some other members.

But 6th Judicial District Judge Michelle Anderson granted the dismissal motion from defense attorney Andrew Poole, who argued that it was Keith's legal duty to simply record the actions taken by the council.

"While the Tower City Council may have been acting improperly by failing to give Mr. Helmberger proper notice and a due process hearing prior to his removal, that was not an action by (Keith)," Anderson wrote in an eight-page order.


The judge said a second allegedly false document — an internal organizational chart prepared by Keith that showed Helmberger as having a one-year term, rather than a three-year term — also reflected an action taken by the city council, whether legally or not, and was not a "materially false" public document created by Keith in her official capacity.

Former Mayor Josh Carlson, 38, earlier pleaded guilty to his role in the controversy, receiving a stay of adjudication that will allow the conviction to stay off his record if he remains law-abiding for a year.

Keith is still facing a separate felony charge for allegedly destroying a city-owned laptop computer by allowing her son to shoot at it and run it over with a truck.

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
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