MN Apartment Manager Burglarizes Tenants; Tenants Face Eviction

Updated: 10/21/2012 5:56 PM KSTP.com By: Mark Saxenmeyer

Prosecutors say the manager of a Coon Rapids apartment building was caught red-handed--on video--stealing from two of her tenants.

She's admitted to the crime.

But now, five months later, she's still living in the building, while the tenants who caught her are facing eviction.

The burglary took place inside Chelsea Schneider's apartment bedroom last spring. She noticed she was missing some prescription medicine and she first blamed her roommate, Nick Buelow. He seemed like the only possible suspect.

But when he denied the theft, the two set up a hidden camera inside Schneider's closet.

Much to their surprise, it recorded.Robin Marie Johnson in action; she's been the building manager at Boulevard Villa apartments for two decades.

Though Johnson was charged with the crime in May, and ordered by the court to turn over her master keys to the building, the roommates say Johnson continued to act as manager until this month, when she informed residents she was quitting. This past Monday she pled guilty to burglary.

"She didn't even have to be proved guilty, she pled guilty, and she's still here," Buelow said.

5 Eyewitness News tried to reach Johnson for comment Friday but she wasn't home. The owner of Boulevard Villa, Jerry Morrow, told us he has no plans to evict her; instead he wants Buelow and Schneider out. In the last month, they've received three different notices to vacate.

"Not one bit legal," Buelow said, while looking over the three notices. His conclusion comes after he consulted with tenants' rights' attorney Jim Skoog.

"If the lease is a month-to-month lease (like Buelow's and Schneider's) and the tenant is up to date on his rent then in order to end that tenancy, the landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days notice," Skoog said.

Buelow thinks Morrow wants them out because of "retaliation."

Morrow admits he told Buelow: "You're not going to tell me how to run my building. I don't need your attitude."

And when Skoog talked to Morrow, Skoog said, "It appeared to me that the landlord's main interest was getting rid of Nick as a trouble maker, as somebody who was bringing undue attention to himself, as the landlord, that he does not want."

But there's also a state statute protecting tenants from retaliation, Statute 504B.285.

Statute or not, Buehlow thinks the facts fall in his and Schneider's favor. "We're not the ones who were caught on video breaking into someone's apartment," he said. "She (Johnson) should be the one being evicted. We should be left alone."

Johnson will be sentenced in Anoka County Court on Dec. 5.

Mark Saxenmeyer can be reached at msaxenmeyer@kstp.com