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Airport manager candidate's earlier guilty plea related to airport spending

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

A candidate for the airport manager position at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport earlier pleaded guilty to an amended misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to commit theft by deception in 2010.

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The Lexington Herald-Leader (Ky.) newspaper reported in March of 2010 that John Coon, who now works at an airport in Anderson, Ind., pleaded guilty to the charge that had been amended down from a felony theft charge. The plea deal, according to the newspaper, required Coon to testify at any trials against any other defendants in a case involving spending of airport money.

Coon said he felt bad about the incident but felt that he had paid his debt to society and done a good job in the past 18 months as airport manager at the Anderson (Ind.) Municipal Airport.

“It was an unfortunate situation and I have a lot of remorse towards it,” Coon said. “It damaged by career, my family and my reputation in the industry. I feel very bad that it happened.”

Coon previously worked at the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., and according to the Herald-Leader was one of four men indicted after law agencies spent more than nine months investigating spending at the Blue Grass Airport. All four men, the newspaper reported, were forced to step down in January of 2009. They spent more than $530,000 on travel, meals and entertainment and other expenses from 2006 to 2008, the Herald-Leader reported.

Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission Chair Andy Larson could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. Commissioner Beth Pfingsten said Friday she knew nothing about any problems Coon had in the past and had no comment.

Coon is one of five candidates who are scheduled to be interviewed for the permanent airport manager post that has been open since December.

Two Brainerd area candidates have surfaced for the airport manager position. Rick Adair, the current interim airport manager, and Jeff Wig, a dean at Central Lakes College, are among the five candidates who will be interviewed within the next two weeks.

The other candidates are Anthony Dudas, airport operations officer at Sloulin Field International Airport in Williston, N.D.; Brian Madsen, airport manager at Skyharbor in Duluth; and Coons.

Dudas, Wig and Madsen will be interviewed Thursday. Coon and Adair will be interviewed Oct. 30.

The Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport Commission and Manager Search Committee will conduct the first set of interviews at 1 p.m. Thursday in the airport conference room at the airport. The two groups will also conduct interviews at 1 p.m. Oct. 30 at the same location.

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