Property owner charged with assaulting neighbor he accused of illegal dumping

Published 10:16 am Monday, November 18, 2013

A Clarks Grove man pleaded not guilty last week to assaulting a man who he suspected had been dumping garbage on his property for more than a year.

Howard David Johnson, 68, faces a charge of second-degree assault tied to his alleged altercation with Herman Bert Oldenkamp, 72, of Oakland, earlyAug. 30 at the 74000 block of 270th Street.

Court documents state early Johnson was reportedly sitting in the ditch across from his property in an attempt to catch the man, when Oldenkamp reportedly pulled up to his driveway in a car.

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Johnson told Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office deputies that he crossed the road to get the license plate number off the car when Oldenkamp reportedly threw a bin of garbage in his direction and began to approach him, court documents stated. He said Oldenkamp was swinging his arms.

Johnson allegedly hit Oldenkamp in the head with what he first said was a bat and later described as his walking stick, court records state. A struggle ensued, and Johnson then allegedly punched Oldenkamp in the face and then held him down while he called 911.

Johnson told a Sheriff’s Office detective that he had been sitting at the end of his driveway since about 11 p.m. Aug. 29 because someone had been dumping garbage at the end of his driveway and leaving notes accusing him of criminal activity in 2000. He placed surveillance cameras in the area to try to capture the man who he believed had been dumping garbage.

Johnson is awaiting a jury trial on the charge. A date has not yet been set.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a $14,000 fine.