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Lake Shore council member cited for shoplifting in Baxter

Lake Shore City Council member John Bukovich — who was cited for shoplifting Sunday at Gander Mountain in Baxter — blamed his medications for his actions.

“I’m taking two types of medications and when I run out of it or take too many I get goofy,” Bukovich said in a telephone interview. “I feel bad about it. I take the meds to settle me down so I’m not so hyper.”

Bukovich said he is on anti-depressant medications and they have bad side effects. Bukovich said in his head, he believed the merchandise he took was his.

Baxter Police Chief Jim Exsted said an officer responded to a call at 11:37 a.m. at Gander Mountain, where Bukovich was issued a citation for misdemeanor shoplifting of $225 worth of merchandise.

According to court records in Crow Wing County, the 67-year-old Lake Shore resident also was cited for shoplifting at Fleet Farm in Baxter on April 4, 2008. However, Bukovich fought the citation and it was dismissed.

“It’s embarrassing,” Bukovich said of the allegations of shoplifting. “I feel foolish ... I could go back and fight it (Sunday’s citation) and get this one dismissed too, but I’m tired. I don’t want to do it anymore.”

Bukovich is the general manager of The Lakes Grill and Bar that opened April 16 just off Highway 371 North near Brainerd International Raceway in the building that formerly housed Matty’s restaurant.

Bukovich said the shoplifting incident was another reminder to him that he needs to control his use of his antidepressant medications. He said he plans to have the waitresses at The Lakes Grill and Bar be his support in helping him take the right amount of medication.

Bukovich has been a Lake Shore City Council member since 2004. His current term expires this year. Before serving on the council, Bukovich served as the Lake Shore police chief for about 20 years, up until the city council decided against renewing his contract with the city on Aug. 25, 2003.

Controversy surrounded Bukovich when the city council placed him on paid administrative leave on July 17, 2003, while an investigation was under way of allegations made from an outside party relating to Bukovich’s duties as police chief. The Itasca County attorney investigated the case and declined to file criminal charges against Bukovich for alleged theft and misconduct. The attorney said there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bukovich committed the crimes of theft of public funds and misconduct of a public officer while he served as the Lake Shore Police Chief.

Then on Jan. 12, 2004, Bukovich filed a lawsuit against the city of Lake Shore for $50,000 for accrued vacation and sick time for which he said he wasn’t paid.

In his complaint, Bukovich stated he had “demanded” the $108,779 and the city failed to pay him. In his lawsuit, Bukovich asked for $50,000 to cover his attorney fees as well as accrued vacation and sick time. In an answer served Feb. 4, 2004, the city of Lake Shore denied owing any more than the $800 it has already paid Bukovich. The lawsuit was favorable to Bukovich and the city had to pay him additional accrued vacation pay.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851. Follow me on Twitter at