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Ex-city council member denies beating another member in fight at meeting in northwest Minnesota

Joshua Hagen, left, and Jerald Brown, right. (Forum News Service)

THIEF RIVER FALLS, Minn. -- A former Thief River Falls Council member has pleaded not guilty to accusations that say he assaulted a city leader during a committee meeting.

Joshua Mark Hagen, 38, entered the plea Monday in Pennington County District Court after saying he would fight the fifth-degree assault charge that stemmed from a July 10 scuffle at City Hall in this northwestern Minnesota city of about 8,500 residents..

Court documents state he and council member Jerald Brown got into a verbal altercation during an Administrative Services Committee meeting. The two began shoving each other, and Brown swung a chair at Hagen, court documents said. Hagen allegedly was "pounding on Brown's head as hard as he could," witnesses said.

Brown pleaded guilty last week to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct, but District Judge Tamara Yon ordered the case to be expunged if he doesn’t commit any crimes in the next six months.

Hagen resigned from his City Council position a week after the altercation. He previously said he was defending himself against Brown, adding he would fight the allegations.

Hagen faces a maximum punishment of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. His next hearing is slated for Sept. 17.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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