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Police wrap up Farmington crime ring

Life around the 600 block of First Street in Farmington should get a lot quieter now that all of the individuals involved with a series of burglaries and thefts late last year and earlier this year are now charged for their crimes.

Last week, the Dakota County Attorney’s office filed felony burglary charges against Dennis Bryant Greenwood, owner of the home allegedly at the center of months of criminal activity. It was the third time Greenwood has been charged this year.

Greenwood’s charges stem from a Jan. 14 incident where Greenwood allegedly helped Doran Ritzman and Cody Swanson break into a neighbor’s home and take a 47-inch television, a iMac laptop, blank checks, three cameras and several other items.

Ritzman was found guilty on the charges in February. Swanson was found guilty in May but died later that month after leading Farmington police on a high speed chase from Farmington to Red Wing and crashing his car into a tree.

The series of burglaries and thefts started during the late summer of 2013, and continued through early 2014. Farmington police put together a street crimes unit in October after officers started to see connections between incidents. That team involved officers Andy Bellows, Chris Lutz and Shawn Scovill.

Once they had an idea of who was involved and where the base of activity was, police started to issue search warrants. Farmington officers issued six search warrants at Greenwood’s residence, and turned up more than 200 pieces of evidence there, Scovill said.

“As reports started to come in, we would go back and look at pictures and some of the items were there, in the pictures. We just didn’t know at the time that some of the items we were seeing at the house were stolen, so we had to go back a couple of times,” he said.

Through their investigation, police recovered knives, printers, tools, cell phones, computers, jewelry, a set of gold goblets, a police duty belt, credit cards, cash cards and checks.

Farmington police have been able to return about a third of the property found at Greenwood’s residence and other locations associated with the individuals in the group. The rest of the stolen property is being held at the police department, he said. Most of it is personal items from vehicles, like sunglasses or documents.

Since January, Greenwood, Ritzman, Swanson, Matt Carlson, Jacob Hoffbeck, Meagan Weiss, all of Farmington; Brian Doerfler of Minneapolis; and Jordan Schultz of Northfield have been charged in connection to the criminal activity on First Street. The thefts and burglaries happened in several communities, Scovill said, so at least nine jurisdictions have been involved in the investigation.

Scovill thinks there may be at least one more person charged in connection to the burglaries and thefts. But for the most part, he said, all criminal activity at Greenwood’s residence is “shut down.”

“Most of the people have been convicted. At least one has been sent to prison and a couple others are on probation. Almost all of the charges have been filed, so I think the people who were involved have been convicted and sentenced,” he said, “so it should be wrapped up.”

That will be good news for residents who live along First Street and Walnut Street, neighbors to Greenwood’s home. Police have received a number of complaints about the activity at his home, and they have done their best to work with those residents, Scovill said.

“A lot of people want the immediate result, but that’s not how the system works, and we had to explain that to some of the neighbors. There’s a process,” he said. “We did the best we could with our resources.”

Greenwood and his girlfriend, Elysah Jo Dawson, also of Farmington, were charged in February with check forgery, offering a forged check and possession of stolen/counterfeit checks. The couple was again charged in June, after Lakeville officers found they allegedly had possession of marijuana and methamphetamine in a motor vehicle.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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