Teen in Waseca plot has ended probation, takes felony

Published 9:44 am Wednesday, July 27, 2016

WASECA — A Waseca teenager who planned an attack at his school in 2014 has been released from his probation, and in exchange, he has accepted a felony conviction on his record.

John LaDue made the request last week, and it was granted Tuesday by Judge Joseph Chase. LaDue was allowed to leave the courthouse after the hearing, as he has already served his time.

“John’s fulfilled his obligation to society,” his attorney, Jeff Johnson, said after the hearing. “He’s actually sat one more day than what is required under the law. Regardless of what he does, he understands that he’s going to have to live with this, even if he completed 10 years of probation.”

Email newsletter signup

LaDue, now 19, pleaded guilty last fall to one count of possessing an explosive device and agreed to up to 10 years of probation to keep a felony off his record.

But he’s been at his parents’ house since May and has been under probation conditions that include daily check-ins, weekly mental health appointments, monthly appointments with a psychiatrist and other conditions.

He has said that making appointments has been difficult, and terms of his probation will make it hard for him to go to school to be a pipe fitter. He has said that he now realizes a felony conviction may not hurt his future prospects as much as he once feared and with the internet he wears a “Scarlet letter,” Johnson said.

“He’s made the decision after staying in the community that no matter how hard he works at this, no matter what he does, he will be viewed the same way,” Johnson said.

LaDue was 17 when he was arrested in April 2014 after he was found with bomb-making materials and detailed plans to kill his family then carry out an attack at his school.

Mental health experts had testified that LaDue was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and a fixation on violence. A separate evaluation before he was allowed to go to his parents’ found he suffered from depression, not autism, and was a low risk.

Waseca County Attorney Brenda Miller said she was concerned about LaDue’s choice.

“Nobody will be supervising him; he can just regress back to the behavior he had before,” she said last week. “I hope he doesn’t. I hope he gets the services he needs. There’s no way to verify that.”