Gregory mayor in court on drug chargesGREGORY — The mayor of Gregory today will appear in court on charges of stealing prescription medications from several Gregory County homes.
By: Jamie Gibson, Daily Republic, Worthington Daily Globe
GREGORY — The mayor of Gregory today will appear in court on charges of stealing prescription medications from several Gregory County homes.
Wade Juracek, 38, faces nine felony charges, including three counts of possession of a controlled substance, three counts of second-degree burglary and three counts of obtaining a controlled substance by theft. If convicted on all counts, Juracek faces a maximum penalty of 35 years in prison and $70,000 in fines.
Juracek could be removed from office by a vote of the City Council or through a public recall, according to state law.
Seven total Gregory and Burke residents say Juracek visited their homes in December and asked to use the restroom. Three reported thefts of Oxycodone or morphine, which are painkillers only available by prescription.
Merlyn and Keith Agner, of Gregory, reported that Juracek visited them several times, asking about buying their motor home. On the two occasions he found them home, Juracek used their restroom.
After Juracek’s first visit in mid-October, Merlyn Agner discovered she was missing a bottle of Oxycodone filled with about 86 tablets, according to court paperwork.
Juracek stopped at their home again Dec. 24 to wish them a Merry Christmas. He had a child and asked to use the restroom to change a diaper.
Agner checked the restroom after he left. She had the prescription refilled 12 days earlier, but the bottle was missing after Juracek’s visit, according to court papers.
According to the court documents, Juracek used a similar method at other residences.
Annette Wagner said Juracek visited her home twice in December. Both times, he asked to use the restroom.
Following one of Juracek’s visits, the Wagners reported a bottle of morphine missing.
On Dec. 4, Roy Goodman received a visit from Juracek about a car for sale. Goodman waited outside the house while Juracek used the facilities. A week later, Goodman reported a bottle of Oxycodone missing.
When Agner learned Juracek had checked himself into a treatment center Jan. 9, she contacted authorities.
Gregory County Sheriff’s Department Deputy J.J. Wolf visited Juracek at Keystone Treatment Center on Jan. 13. According to Wolf’s police report, Juracek admitted to the thefts and said he had been addicted to painkillers. When he couldn’t get the amount of pain medication he needed, he resorted to stealing, according to court papers.
Others in Gregory and Burke reported visits from Juracek in December, and each time he asked to use the restroom. Among his reasons, according to court papers, were inspections of political yard signs and a culvert.
Juracek was elected mayor of Gregory in May 2008. His term is for two years.
Criminal charges have been filed by Gregory County State’s Attorney Sandy Steffen, who said Monday that Juracek is in jail. He will make his initial appearance in court at approximately 9:30 a.m. today.
At the Feb. 2 meeting of the Gregory City Council, Juracek apologized for recent absences from council meetings.
When contacted Monday afternoon, Gregory City Council President Dan DeSmet would not comment, saying the council expected to discuss Juracek at a meeting Monday evening.
City attorney George Johnson of Johnson Eklund Law Office is advising the Gregory City Council of its options. Johnson said the council could choose to remove Juracek if a hearing is held and four aldermen vote to revoke him.
“They basically create their own rules of discipline,” Johnson said.
State law also allows for a recall election if at least 15 percent of registered voters, based on the total number from the last general election, sign a petition calling for the election. Allowable grounds for a recall petition include misconduct, crimes in office, drunkenness and theft, among others.
Second-degree burglary is a Class 3 felony, punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison and $30,000 fine. Possession of a controlled substance and obtaining a controlled substance by theft are Class 4 felonies, each punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and $20,000 fine.