The former Murray County Sheriff is accused of quashing an investigation into a DNR officer’s potential DWI in 2022.
Steven Alan Telkamp, 53, was charged July 27 with misconduct of a public officer or employee, a gross misdemeanor.
Murray County deputies responded to a single-vehicle rollover during the early morning hours of April 17, 2022. A criminal complaint says deputies recognized James Robinson, a Minnesota Department of National Resources Conservation Officer, inside the crashed vehicle. Robinson was known to the Murray County Sheriff’s Office through his work as a DNR officer.
Police smelled alcohol on Robinson’s breath and obtained a search warrant to draw his blood, according to the complaint. Robinson’s blood sample was placed in a secured garage refrigerator at the sheriff’s office, the standard procedure for blood tests, according to the charging document.
In June 2022, the DNR began investigating the Robinson incident after receiving a complaint from a concerned citizen. DNR officials contacted the Murray County Sheriff’s Office in an effort to obtain reports related to Robinson’s crash. The complaint says then-Chief Deputy Heath Landsman told the DNR that staff had been directed that Sheriff Telkamp was the only one allowed to release information on the Robinson incident.
During an August phone call with the DNR, Sheriff Telkamp allegedly told DNR officials he knew Robinson from through work but didn’t know him personally – and wouldn’t do any favors for him. Telkamp allegedly maintained that he had taken over the investigation because he was retiring and wanted his deputies to avoid having to arrest a fellow officer. Telkamp allegedly told DNR officials he had sent Robinson’s blood sample to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for testing and was waiting on toxicology results.
The BCA opened an investigation of its own in October 2022 at the request of the Murray County Attorney. The complaint says agents learned that the laboratory had no record of receiving Robinson’s blood kit.
In January 2023, BCA investigators spoke again to Landsman, now the newly-elected Murray County Sheriff. The complaint says Landsman told his deputies to “do their job” the night of Robinson’s accident and called Telkamp to inform him of the incident later that morning. Telkamp allegedly instructed his chief deputy to “lock the case down” to limit access to reports by other personnel at the sheriff’s office.
Court documents say Landsman intended to mail Robinson’s blood sample to the BCA the day after the crash, but it was not in the garage refrigerator. Telkamp allegedly told Landsman he had already mailed the sample to the BCA.
The complaint says Robinson initially told BCA investigators he had been out to dinner with his son-in-law the night of the crash and admitted to drinking, but later denied recollection of his activities prior to the crash.
Robinson denied having any non-work-related conversations with Telkamp, according to the complaint.
BCA investigators say records showed that Robinson’s phone received five calls from a phone number used by Telkamp’s spouse on the morning of the crash (April 17), the following day, and April 19, 20, and 21st.
The complaint says there were no written reports, photographs, or video or audio recordings that were prepared or submitted by Telkamp as part of the investigation.
The DNR has confirmed that Robinson is no longer employed by the agency but declined to disclose the nature of his exit.