Ex-candidate pleads not guilty to gun possession charges

Published 9:44 am Thursday, August 7, 2014

A former local political candidate has pleaded not guilty to possessing firearms as a convicted felon.

Zeke Thaddeus Dahl, 36, faces two gross misdemeanor charges for allegedly handling a handgun during a firearms class at Riverland Community College even though he was convicted of felony check forgery in 2011.

In 2010, Dahl took about $8,000 from his grandmother using forged checks. His grandmother reportedly told police he had a “bad gambling habit” and admitted to taking the money before he went to gambling treatment.

Zeke Dahl

Zeke Dahl

Email newsletter signup

He was sentenced to five years’ supervised probation and was ordered to pay $7,100 in restitution before his felony would be reduced to a misdemeanor. Since then, Dahl has twice violated his parole.

Dahl may have violated his parole once again after Mower County Sheriff’s deputies learned on May 8 that Dahl had registered for a basic firearms class at Riverland Community College and had allegedly possessed and shot a Glock .9 mm handgun owned by the college during the course.

According to a court complaint, deputies found Dahl had allegedly marked on paperwork in February that he hadn’t been convicted of a felony since he turned 18. Furthermore, a detective who taught the class wasn’t aware Dahl was a convicted felon until he was notified by officials with the Mower County Correctional Service.

Police tried to speak to Dahl at the last Riverland class on May 12, but Dahl didn’t show up. Deputies got hold of Dahl on May 14, but Dahl allegedly told authorities he couldn’t meet with them as he was getting ready for work. Dahl said he might be able to meet with deputies on the next day.

Dahl’s grandmother allegedly told deputies on May 15 that Dahl was out of town and had checked himself into a gambling treatment program in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.

Deputies also found pictures of Dahl allegedly handling a Glock handgun. The photos were taken by other students, according to the complaint.

Dahl spoke out about his current charges last month and claimed he didn’t realize he was still a convicted felon, as he had made steady payments on his restitution. In addition, he said he didn’t believe taking a firearms safety class would be a violation of his parole.

“There was no intent of trying to break the law,” he said. “My thing is, OK, I took the class, not knowing that I wasn’t allowed to take the class because they did a background check and they told us the background checks cleared, I didn’t think I was a convicted felon, I thought a stay of imposition was a stay on the charges.”

Dahl’s next court date is Dec. 19. Dahl has $2,297 left to pay in restitution.

Dahl ran for mayor in 2010 only a few months after he moved to Austin. He came in last place with 103 votes. He ran for a Ward 1 city council seat in 2012 but dropped out of the race after he learned his felony conviction would prevent him from serving in office.