A Scandia man has pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and is serving six months of unsupervised probation following an incident February when he used a tractor to destroy a neighborhood bonfire.
According to a criminal complaint, residents of Scandia’s Bliss neighborhood were celebrating following their 38th annual ice golf tournament on Big Marine Lake, when Joseph D. Reinhardt, 42, drove his John Deere 4115 tractor toward the group at a high rate of speed, scooped up the bonfire, and then dropped it. At least eight witnesses said they had to quickly flee the area, to avoid getting hit by the tractor and the flames. Several witnesses said they were fearful that Reinhardt was going to kill someone, and one reported still being terrified hours later and considering going to stay in a hotel.
When a Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy arrived in the neighborhood, the tractor’s engine was still warm and its lift tines were still covered in ash, but no one answered at the Reinhardt door. The complaint noted that law enforcement was “extremely familiar” with Reinhardt and that they have had contact with him on 193 other occasions since August 2018.
Reinhardt initially faced seven counts of felony second-degree assault as a result of the incident, all of which were dismissed. Each assault charge carried a maximum sentence of seven years of imprisonment and $14,000 in fines.
Instead, Reinhardt entered into the plea agreement April 20 and paid $187 in fines. He will be on unsupervised probation until Oct. 20. A 90-day jail sentence and $900 in fines were stayed as part of the conviction.
A call to Reinhardt’s attorney, Ryan Pacyga, last week was not returned.
Laura Perkins, a public information manager for the Washington County District Attorney's Office, said that follow-up investigations and further conversations with neighbors and witnesses about the situation were ultimately what led to the assault charges being dropped.
"It ended up falling more in line with a disorderly conduct (charge)," Perkins said.