City officials in small Iowa town faces string of charges

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ARMSTRONG, Iowa (AP) – The mayor, police chief and current and former city clerk of a small Iowa town have been charged with a string of felonies and misdemeanors after a multi-year investigation uncovered embezzlement and other abuses, authorities say.

The Emmett County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday in a news release that the Iowa Attorney General’s Office filed the charges against Armstrong Mayor Greg Buum, police chief Craig Merrill, city clerk Tracie Lang and former city clerk Connie Thackery on Thursday.

The sheriff’s office said state law enforcement and financial officials assisted in the investigation, which uncovered “misappropriation of city funds, the presentation of fraudulent public records, deploying a TASER against a civilian in exchange for cash, and falsification of ledgers to conceal embezzlement.”

Everyone but Merrill, the police chief, was arrested Friday. Bond is set at $67,000 for Buum, $44,000 for Lang and $33,000 for Thackery. A jail official had no information about whether the three in custody had attorneys who could speak on their behalf.

Phone messages left at Merrill’s home and the city hall in Armstrong weren’t immediately returned Saturday.

Armstrong has about 880 residents and is located 135 miles (217.26 kilometers) north of Des Moines, near the state’s border with Minnesota.

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