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TSPR Local

Former Sheriff's Deputy Agrees to Plea Deal in Theft Case

Justin Lundgren in a photo from his campaign

Two years ago Justin Lundgren was a detective for the McDonough County Sheriff's Department and a candidate in the Republican primary for sheriff. Today he is no longer allowed to work in law enforcement.

Lundgren pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of theft in an estate battle with his siblings. He was sentenced to one year conditional discharge. As part of the plea deal, Lundgren:

  • Must relinquish his law enforcement certificate 
  • Is permanently barred from working in law enforcement
  • Must pay $30,455 in restitution along with fines and penalties
  • Must not violate the law during the next year

Circuit Court Judge William Poncin heard the case. He said the deal brings an end to a 25 year law enforcement career. He also noted the plea deal means Lundgren admitted to committing a theft while serving as a law officer.
Lundgren declined to comment during this week’s court hearing.

Lundgren is accused of taking money from the estate of his mother, Mildred Lundgren. She passed away in June, 2016.

Lundgren, who was made executor of his mother’s nearly $600,000 estate, was accused of spending its money on expenses not related to the estate. 

The allegations against Lundgren surfaced publicly during his campaign for sheriff. He finished second in a three-person contest for the Republican nomination. Nick Petitgout won the March, 2018 primary and became sheriff in May, 2018 when Sheriff Rick VanBrooker retired early. Petitgout then won a full four-year term when he ran unopposed in the November, 2018 general election.

A couple months after the primary, the sheriff’s department placed Lundgren on paid administrative leave. The paid leave started on May 30, 2018, and his final day at the department was August 15, 2019. His annual salary was $58,000.

Sheriff Petitgout has declined to say whether Lundgren was fired or if he resigned.

Lundgren originally faced a felony charge, and his siblings are unhappy with the plea deal. One of Lundgren’s sisters, Jan Nell Bastert, told TSPR that prosecutors did not work with the family members, who wanted Justin convicted of a felony.

In her victim impact statement, Bastert said she was emotionally and physically drained after discovering that her brother “...was embezzling thousands of dollars out of our mother’s estate.” She also noted, “Justin has arrested individuals for the same crime that he has done.” 

Another sister, Jamie Sutter, wrote in her victim impact statement, “...we all feel deceived and disillusioned by our little brother’s actions, greed, and narcissistic abuse.”

And brother Jon Lundgren wrote that because of Justin’s actions, the family has not been able to put their late mother’s affairs in order. “Her estate is still open to this day because of all this. It is painful.”

The legal battle is not over. The siblings have sued Justin Lundgren in civil court.