Armstrong, IA — The people of Armstrong, Iowa have apparently been the victims of a top-down violent theft scandal run by the mayor, the police chief, and two others. Now after holding the town hostage for years, four of the ring leaders from this small Iowa town are behind bars.
Starting Friday afternoon, three city officials, including Mayor Greg Buum, City Clerk Tracie Lang and former City Clerk Connie Thackery were arrested on more than two dozen criminal charges filed by the Iowa Attorney General's Office.
On Saturday, Armstrong, Iowa police chief Craig Merrill was taken into custody in Martin County, Minnesota. Exactly why Merrill was in Minnesota and not Iowa at the time of his arrest was unclear. However, he may have attempted to make a run for it. He is currently waiting in the Martin County jail for extradition back to Iowa.
“Mayor Greg Buum, police chief Craig Merrill, city clerk Tracie Lang, and former city clerk Connie Thackery were charged with felony and misdemeanor offenses in a 21-count joint trial information approved by the Emmet County District Court,” the Emmet County Sheriff’s said in a statement.
The investigation into the corrupt group of politicians and top cop has been underway for several years. As they were at the top of the political pyramid in the small town, they likely made it extremely difficult for anyone to go after them. They were also unafraid of carrying out alleged violence to maintain this power.
According to a release from the Attorney General's Office, the charges were filed on Feb. 11 after a multi-year investigation uncovered allegations of theft, felonious misconduct in office, tampering with records, assault with a dangerous weapon and falsifying public records.
Apparently these people were accepting bribes to enact violence against citizens. According to the release, one of the defendants — it wasn’t immediately clear which — deployed a Taser on a civilian in exchange for cash.
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Buum, Merrill and Thackery face a top charge of ongoing criminal conduct – a Class B felony. Lang’s top rap is fraudulent practice in the first degree – a Class C felony.
The group is also accused of falsifying the accounting ledgers to conceal the theft of money from the citizens of Armstrong.
TFTP was contacted by a resident of this small town, who told us about this story. They explained this has been an ongoing problem for years, and no one has been able to touch these folks because of their positions of authority. That has all changed now.
As the four alleged criminals have connections in the county, their prosecution is now being handled by state officials to prevent further conflicts of interest.
What this case illustrates is the top down corruption that is rife throughout cities across the country. As John Dalberg-Acton famously stated, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men..."
When society grants authority to people -- who are prone to corruption -- many times, these people will use this authority to enrich themselves and violate the laws of the system that grants them their power.
Luckily for now, these four alleged criminals are being held accountable. Hopefully they do not use their connections and privilege to escape said accountability.