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Thief River Falls fires police officer who faces theft charges

The Thief River Falls City Council has voted unanimously to fire a police officer accused of dealing stolen lawnmowers, all-terrain vehicles and other big-ticket items, Mayor Steve Nordhagen said.

Paul Kezar, 37, pleaded not guilty last week to six counts of receiving stolen property: five in Marshall County and one in Pennington County.

Nordhagen did not specify the reason for Kezar's firing. He said there was no discussion before the vote, which was the only matter on the agenda at the special public meeting held Tuesday evening.

The mayor said Kezar did not attend the meeting and did not have representation there. A message left at Kezar's home in Thief River Falls was not returned Wednesday.

Investigators said Kezar was involved in stealing items such as boats, trailers, snowmobiles and ATVs. A search of his residence turned up several items -- worth a total of more than $50,000 -- that had been reported stolen from businesses and individuals, according to a criminal complaint.

Kezar, who is no longer in custody, was arrested Oct. 21. He is due back in court Jan. 29 in Pennington County and Feb. 16 in Marshall County.

The city's police department hired Kezar in January of this year. After his arrest and before his firing, he was on paid administrative leave.