Stearns County, Minnesota—(August 5, 2013)—Peaceful farmer, Alvin Schlangen, faces five criminal charges with a possible penalty of up to 15 months imprisonment and $5,000 in fines at his trial slated to run August 13-15, 2013, in St. Cloud. Schlangen is no stranger to the inside of a courtroom having already been prosecuted—and found not guilty by a jury—in September 2012 in Hennepin County on three charges related to delivering food to members of a private buying club.
Attorney Nathan Hansen, in St. Paul retained by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), is representing Schlangen. Hansen also handled the Hennepin trial.
Schlangen offers members of the private buying club, Freedom Farms Co-op, the benefit of his volunteer delivery service as he picks up members’ food items, including raw milk, from other farms and delivers it along with products from his Freeport farm. Horse-and-buggy farmers, who otherwise would have difficulty getting their farm products distributed, especially appreciate Schlangen’s delivery service.
Mothers, handicapped people, and blind customers are some who rely on Schlangen’s food and delivery service. They are irate at the prospect of losing their food supply if Schlangen is jailed on the five misdemeanor charges. The charges include not having a food handlers license, delivering adulterated and/or misbranded food, and failure to maintain the proper temperature requirements for eggs, which are considered crimes according to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), the agency pushing the Stearns County District Attorney to bring the charges against the peaceful farmer.
“It is downright disturbing that the state I call home would spend any time or resources prosecuting a peaceful man for essentially picking up groceries for me. It is a travesty to what I once called the Justice System to even bring charges against my friend and farmer for these alleged ‘crimes’; and if he is found guilty on any of the charges, it will be beyond tragic on so many levels,” says Schlangen’s friend and buying club member Elisabeth Berry….”
Update 8/16/2013: Fund attorney Nathan Hansen reports that Alvin was fined $300 plus court fees at the end of his Stearns County trial on August 15 during the sentencing after the jury returned its verdict convicting him on all five charges. Alvin was facing a maximum fine of $5,000 plus up to 15-months jail time; but the judge gave him one year on probation and if he violates the terms, Alvin will have to serve the 90 days in jail that was suspended and pay the $700 balance of the fine [the judge actually fined Alvin $1,000 but suspended $700 of it.]