Backhoe incident brings legal backlash to LaHarpe mayor
LaHarpe Mayor Ryan Kienast, 39, faces misconduct charges and possible incarceration after allegedly borrowing a backhoe — along with staffers — belonging to the city of LaHarpe last fall, the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW) recently announced via its website.
According to the ECW report, the mayor was charged with utilizing public property and personnel for private use on Nov. 11, 2016.
“Kienast … while acting in his official capacity, knowingly performed an act which he knew was forbidden by law to perform in that he ordered David Miller, a LaHarpe city employee, to use a city-owned backhoe to remove dirt at a residence that Ryan Kienast owned,” the Hancock County Journal-Pilot quoted the official document as saying.
While the watchdog organization expressed approval of the official charges levied against Kienast by the Hancock County state’s attorney — comprising a Class 3 felony — it also paused to remind constituents that the real victory lies in how just one observer can make a big difference in the outcome of handling such misdeeds.
According to ECW, justice was duly served because the system worked well.
“This is a textbook case of how things are supposed to work when alleged crimes are witnessed, documented and turned into the proper authorities to investigate,” ECW stated on its website. “We only wish more state’s attorneys would pay attention to these type of complaints … Our hat's off to the Hancock County state’s attorney for doing his job.”
The Journal-Pilot stated that, if convicted, Kienast could be sentenced up to five years in jail, one year of parole and $25,000 in fines.