Pulkrabek Enters an 'Alford Plea' in Domestic Assault Case
An Alford plea isn't admitting guilt, just that there may be enough evidence to convict.
Washington County Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct while using a legal maneuver known as an Alford plea Wednesday afternoon before a Chisago County Judge.
He was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay a fine of $285 for his role in a May 30 incident in a Woodbury home.
The victim will be able to seek restitution for 30 days, and Pulkrabek was also ordered to take an anger management course—which his attorney said he has already completed.
Pulkrabek was arrested on May 30 and charged with misdemeanor domestic assault after his girlfriend accused him of throwing her on the bed by her hair, holding his forearm over her neck so she couldn't breathe and pulling her down the stairs by her hair at a home at the 10900 block of Oak Grove Circle in Woodbury.
Under an Alford plea, Pulkrabek did not admit guilt, but did admit that if a jury believed the evidence presented during a trial, he would be found guilty.
Judge John McBride said that Alford pleas “always leave me unsettled” because “I don’t know exactly what happened."
“One thing I do know is that as a public official the community puts a lot of faith and respect in us and when things of this nature happen it does do damage to that respect,” McBride said.
Pulkrabek said in a statement, “I take full responsibility for my lapse in judgement,” after the hearing. “I offer my apology to everyone directly and indirectly involved in this misunderstanding.”
As part of the Alford plea, Pulkrabek agreed that his former girlfriend would testify that he was at the 10900 block of Oak Grove Circle in Woodbury on May 30 in order to pick up a cat, that there was an argument over his relationship with the victim, that the pair “argued over lotion,” that he put the cat in its carrier in a “rough manner,” and that he made “boisterous, abusive or offensive” physical contact with the victim.
After the sentencing, a victim’s advocate from Tubman, a Twin Cities domestic violence agency, read a statement prepared by the victim.
In the statement, Pulkrabek’s girlfriend asked for an apology and said she had suffered emotional damage and racked up “tens of thousands of dollars” in medical bills.
“Since the attack, it’s been more than difficult to sleep,” she wrote. “When I do I have terrible nightmares. During the day, I have reoccurring flashbacks.”
She wrote that she has spent “a significant amount” of time in the hospital.
“He still gets to live his life as usual,” she said in a statement. “He took so much from me: He took a piece of my self worth, a piece of my trusting nature, a piece of my hopes and dreams and a piece of my heart.”
Pulkrabek was first elected to the Washington County Board in 1998 and is in his fourth term. He served as mayor of Oakdale from 1995 to 1998. He is also a former campaign manager for Rep. Michele Bachmann, and played a role in starting her political career.
In June, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office declined to press felony charges due to “insufficient evidence,” and his misdemeanor hearing was moved to Chisago County to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
After the hearing, Pulkrabek's attorney Ryan Kaess said that his client was maintaining his innocence.
“I strongly support him in that belief,” Kaess said in a statement. “However, in reviewing all the relevant facts and the distraction this matter has caused and would have continued to cause to his friends, family and constituents, I understand and support his decision to bring closure to this matter.”