Updated: July 29, 2021 10:02 PM
Created: July 29, 2021 08:55 PM
A former trooper with the Minnesota State Patrol will pay a $200 fine and serve two years of probation for texting himself nude photos from the phone of a woman he arrested last year.
A judge sentenced 37-year-old Albert Kuehne, of Dayton, on Thursday — more than a month after he entered a guilty plea that allowed him to avoid prison time and a felony conviction.
Hennepin County prosecutors originally charged the former state trooper with felony stalking but reduced the charge to "nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images" — a gross misdemeanor.
Investigators said Kuehne took a 25-year-old woman's phone after she was involved in a single-car accident at Interstate 94 and Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis last March.
According to the criminal complaint, Kuehne detained the woman on suspicion of driving under the influence and searched her phone without the woman's consent. Kuehne later admitted to sending three nude photos of the woman to his personal cellphone.
The Minnesota State Patrol fired Kuehne in October last year.
"I would like to apologize to the victim for my indiscretion," Kuehne said during his sentencing hearing, which was held over Zoom. "I regret the incident and take full responsibility for my actions."
The victim didn't appear at the hearing. Instead, her attorney, Mark Kallenbach, read a statement to the court:
"Mr. Kuehne's wanton violation of my client's dignity and privacy is egregious," Kallenbach said. "He violated the tenets of the oath that he took as a police officer to protect and serve... He took advantage of my client when she was vulnerable and in distress to satisfy his own prurient interests."
As a part of his plea deal, Kuehne is allowed to complete his probation through Hennepin County's Veterans Court program because he is a captain with the U.S. Army Reserve. He has been a member of the Reserve since 2003.
A spokesperson with the Army Reserve confirmed to 5 INVESTIGATES that Kuehne's command is conducting its own investigation and will take "appropriate action" based on their findings.
Well-known prosecutor Steve Schleicher is also a former U.S. Army Reserve captain and JAG Corps Officer. He says Kuehne could still lose his job with the military even though the misconduct happened while he was working as a state trooper.
"If his commander decided the civilian misconduct was serious enough to warrant initiating separation actions, the commander can do that," Schleicher said. "There's an element of abuse of a position of authority and a position of trust and misuse of an official position to gain access and that is problematic for somebody who is going to be representing the values that are supposed to be reflected in the United States Army."
During sentencing on Thursday, Kuehne's attorney Fred Bruno asked the court to allow his client "furlough" from Veterans Court to travel with the military.
"We would like to do everything we can to preserve Mr. Kuehne's role in the military which is significant," Bruno said.
Kuehne is due back in Veterans Court next month.
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