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Wadena DWI suspect faces felony count

A man suspected of driving under the influence is now being charged with a felony count of receiving stolen property.

Paul George Yankowiak, 45, of Wadena, originally faced one gross misdemeanor as well as two misdemeanors, after his vehicle was seen swerving on U.S. Highway 10 April 24. He was suspected of DWI, which ultimately lead authorities to an arrest for one felony count of receiving stolen property, which was taken from the City of Wadena.

Court records said at approximately 12:50 a.m., an officer noticed a car traveling westbound on Highway 10 that had swerved into the oncoming traffic lane for an extended amount of time. The vehicle was pulled over, and when asked for a driver's license and proof of insurance, Yankowiak could not provide an insurance document. The officer asked why Yankowiak was swerving, and the suspect claimed he had dropped a cigarette, court documents said.

Deputies later found large amounts of cable in the back of the vehicle. Court records said Yankowiak insisted he worked for a utility company. He was suspected of using alcohol, which was found to invalidate his license. After refusing a PBT, he was arrested.

Officers noted a wire cutter was visibly present on the front seat of the vehicle. A teletype had been sent that evening from Crow Wing County regarding a wire theft.

A City of Wadena employee was asked to help identify the wire, which turned out to be used for 7,200 volt systems. The employee said it would be very unusual for an individual to be in possession of such wire, according to court documents. Looking at the white footage marks on the wire, they were able to match the wire found in Yankowiak's vehicle to wire that was missing from the City of Wadena's spool of the same wire. A large portion was missing, and it was not wrapped with black electrical tape like it would have been if legitimately cut to prevent moisture.

Court records said the estimated length of the wire missing came to approximately 920 feet. The wire is valued at approximately $2.50 per foot for a total value of $2,300. If the wire was sold as scrap, it would be valued at 15 to 20 cents per pound.

Yankowiak said he was employed with a contactor in Medina, Minn. Records said the company informed a Wadena county jailer he had been laid off in late 2011, and it would be highly unlikely he would have spare wire from his time there.

Yankowiak's first appearance regarding the stolen property is set for June 1.