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Hermantown mayor on probation

Hermantown Mayor Keith MacDonald pleaded guilty Thursday in St. Louis County District Court to violating a temporary restraining order taken out against him by his former fianc?e.

Hermantown Mayor Keith MacDonald pleaded guilty Thursday in St. Louis County District Court to violating a temporary restraining order taken out against him by his former fiancée.

MacDonald was arrested by Duluth police on Jan. 20 at the Miller Hill Mall when Joy Hedquist of Carlton reported that he had been following her at the mall in violation of a restraining order she had against him that was valid through December 2009.

"I have taken responsibility for my actions on January 20, 2008, when I spoke with my former fiancée at the Miller Hill Mall,'' MacDonald said in a statement released through his attorney, Shawn Reed. "I apologize for any negative impact this may have had on her or any others.''

Sixth Judicial District Judge Shaun Floerke placed MacDonald on two years' probation with the conditions that the defendant abide by the restraining order, that he complete the program "Changing Men-Changing Lives'' and that he pay $500 in prosecution costs.

If MacDonald completes the probation successfully, the restraining order violation will not become a criminal conviction on his record.

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"Keith, during the entire course of this matter, has taken responsibility for his actions, never once attempting to avoid or make excuses for his behavior,'' Reed said in a telephone interview Thursday.

MacDonald, 47, is an insurance agent who was elected Hermantown mayor in 2004. He said he has never been married. In an interview with the News Tribune last month, MacDonald said he dated Hedquist for 2½ years and was engaged to her in mid-July 2007 with a wedding date of Oct. 12, 2007. He said he got "cold feet" and called it off, then regretted his decision.

He said he never threatened Hedquist or abused her in any way. He admitted to trying to rekindle the romance. He said he went to her place of business on Dec. 4 just to talk, but Hedquist's relatives told him they wanted him to leave. That led to the restraining order, he said.

During the earlier interview, MacDonald said it was a coincidence that he ran into his former fiancée at the Miller Hill Mall. He said he went there to buy a couple of Hallmark cards and get a cup of coffee.

MARK STODGHILL covers public safety and courts. He can be reached weekdays at (218) 723-5333 or by e-mail at mstodghill@duluthnews.com .

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