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Man pleads guilty to string of church burglaries

GRAND RAPIDS - Grand Rapids man has pleaded guilty to nine felony charges in connection with a series of Itasca County church burglaries last year.

Danny Edward Madsen, 42, pleaded guilty to nine of 15 charges during an appearance Monday in State District Court. The other six charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

The agreement calls for a 57-month prison sentence to be stayed for 10 years of supervised probation, which includes serving 12 months in the Itasca County Jail, paying a total of $1,485 in fines plus restitution, maintaining full-time work or school and completing 20 hours of community service a week.

Judge Jon Maturi ordered a presentence investigation into Madsen’s background before accepting the agreement. Sentencing is scheduled for May 19.

Madsen’s co-defendant and girlfriend, Erin Lee Autio, also will be sentenced that day. Autio, 28, pleaded guilty last month to nine burglary charges for her role.

Authorities said the two were behind a string of burglaries that hit nine churches in Grand Rapids, Bigfork, Deer River, Cohasset, Bovey and Pengilly, along with a cabin near Effie, between June and December. Items taken from the churches included TVs, video-game consoles, guitars, a safe, lawnmower, cash and furniture.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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