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Railing against auditor and taxes, Grand Rapids man charged in courthouse confrontation

Suspect faces up to a year in jail for disorderly conduct and obstruction related to an incident Wednesday that spilled out of the Itasca County Auditor's Office.

gavel court crime
gavel court crime

A 61-year-old Grand Rapids man accused of yelling in the auditor's office and telling others not to pay taxes was charged Friday in Itasca County District Court.

John Scott Casper was charged with a pair of misdemeanor offenses after the incident ended in an altercation with authorities at the Itasca County Courthouse in Grand Rapids earlier this week.

Casper was arrested Wednesday following a 2ยฝ-minute altercation with authorities outside the courthouse. Prior to the altercation, Casper had been in and out of the auditor's office, telling one other person "not to pay her taxes," said the criminal complaint filed Friday, noting one charge of obstructing legal process and another for disorderly conduct.

Casper faces up to one year in jail and $4,000 in fines for the offenses.

A sergeant in the Itasca County Sheriff's Office first noticed Casper through courthouse security at 1 p.m. Wednesday, noting a history of "numerous verbal altercations with said sergeant, department heads and county commissioners," the complaint said. The sergeant found an employee in the auditor's office to be "visibly upset" by Casper's actions.

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After Casper retreated to his vehicle, he later returned at 2:55 p.m., "very agitated" inside the auditor's office, the complaint said. Upon his arrival on scene, the sergeant continually asked a yelling Casper to leave. Casper yelled that authorities were "violating his constitutional rights" by asking him to leave.

Sheriff Vic Williams and another lieutenant joined the fray in a stairwell leading to an exit. Casper yelled from halfway down the stairs at the sergeant and then confronted the sergeant to within a foot at the bottom of the stairs. Casper stepped out the door while yelling an obscenity at the sergeant, who felt threatened and believed Casper "was going to take a swing," the complaint said.

Casper was placed under arrest, but failed to comply with commands to place his arms behind his back, the complaint said. After the sergeant "pinned Casper against a railing," an extended struggle ensued, ending after Casper settled down, saying his shoulder "has been bad."

The sergeant cut his right hand and had a sore shoulder, while Casper cut a finger during the altercation.

Casper previously pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor arson charge in 2002 and served a short jail sentence.

This story originally contained an incorrect age for Casper. It was updated at 10 a.m. May 16 with the proper age. The News Tribune regrets the error.

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John Scott Casper (contributed photo)

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