An Ely man who once terrorized campers on Basswood Lake and led conservation officers on a high-speed snowmobile pursuit through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was sentenced Friday for sexually assaulting a woman.
Barney James Lakner, 49, was sentenced to one year in jail stayed for three years of supervised probation and a $900 fine for a gross misdemeanor count of fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct Friday in State District Court in Two Harbors. What that means is as long as Lakner doesn't violate his probation, he will not serve time for the sexual assault.
The sentence was part of a plea agreement with the Lake County Attorney's Office. In exchange for the plea, prosecutor Lara Nygaard dropped felony charges of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm or ammunition. Lakner was set to stand trial on those charges next week.
Nygaard told the court that the victim signed off on the agreement to resolve the case. On Friday, Nygaard said the victim did not want to submit a victim impact statement for sentencing.
Lakner pleaded guilty in January and admitted at the plea hearing that he inappropriately touched a woman without her consent inside his family cabin on Fall Lake in June 2017. He admitted responsibility again Friday during sentencing.
According to a criminal complaint filed in November 2017, the victim reported leaving a gathering of friends at about 8 p.m. June 14 and driving with Lakner to his cabin. She said Lakner drugged and assaulted her.
The victim said she woke up about 1 a.m. to find her clothes had been removed from the waist down and Lakner was sexually assaulting her in a bed, according to the complaint. She said Lakner left the room and she was able to hide in a bathroom and then in the woods while she waited for a friend to pick her up.
Before sentencing Lanker Friday, Sixth Judicial District Judge Mike Cuzzo told Lakner that a doctor's report in the presentencing investigation said he was unlikely to comply with probation sentences. Cuzzo said Lakner's multiple probation violations lent credence to the report.
"I hope you understand the importance of abiding by the conditions of probation or we are going to be back here again," Cuzzo said to Lakner. "I don't want that to happen. I want you to be successful."
Lakner responded by telling Cuzzo he would not be in court again.
Lakner has four prior felony convictions stemming from the two incidents in the Boundary Waters.
He served a three-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to five charges, including three felonies, when he led a drunken, gun-shooting, fireworks-lighting trip that terrorized campers on Basswood Lake in 2007.
He again ran into trouble in 2014, when he rammed a conservation officer's snowmobile while illegally joyriding in the Boundary Waters, where motorized vehicles are outlawed. A Lake County jury convicted him on six charges, including one felony, and he was sentenced to probation and six months in jail.
Lakner remained under supervision at the time of the sexual assault. Lakner was sentenced to 13 months in prison as a result of the probation violation. After credit for time served, Lakner will only service a little over eight months in prison. Lakner is required to report to prison on Aug. 23.
Lakner is also required to register as a predatory offender for 10 years and a harassment restraining order for the victim was extended 50 years.