OSKALOOSA — Former Mahaska County Supervisor Henry “Willie” VanWeelden has been found not guilty on all three charges of theft, misconduct in office and tampering with records stemming from a bench trial conducted in Mahaska County District Court on Nov. 18-19.
Judge Dan Morrison rendered the verdict on Dec. 23.
VanWeelden had been convicted on Feb. 3, 2012, of first-degree theft, felonious conduct in office and tampering with documents after a week-long trial. The charges were in regards to VanWeelden placing his wife, Bonnie, back on county health insurance coverage after he was reelected in November 2008. She was covered initially after VanWeelden was elected in 2001. She was removed in 2004 and then was reinstated in early 2009 after VanWeelden was reelected in 2008.
Judge Paul Miller granted VanWeelden a new trial after a DVD recording of an April 6, 2009, board of supervisors meeting was discovered at the Communications Research Institute office. The DVD had been labeled “April 6, 2008,” instead of the correct date, and it was not discovered in time for the trial.
Morrison conducted the bench trial in November.
Morrison wrote in his conclusions in regards to the theft charge: “The evidence supports a finding the defendant did have a reasonable belief he had a right to the insurance for his wife.”
In regards to the charge of misconduct in office, Morrison wrote: “The evidence supports a finding the defendant reasonably believed he was entitled to the insurance for his wife so he had no conscious awareness of falsifying any public record.”
For the record tampering charge, Morrison wrote: “The evidence supports a finding the defendant reasonably believed he had a right to fill out the forms and send the letter to Auxiant because he was entitled to the insurance for Bonnie because of the (Lawrence) Rouw, Van Wheelden “agreement,” re-elected and newly elected are the same for the Plan.”