Minnesota State Senator Charged with Burglary for Retrieving Late Father's Ashes

Minnesota state senator charged with burglary for trying to retrieve late father's ashes from stepmother's home, raising political implications for Democrats.

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Mahnoor Jehangir
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Minnesota State Senator Charged with Burglary for Retrieving Late Father's Ashes

Minnesota State Senator Charged with Burglary for Retrieving Late Father's Ashes

Minnesota state senator Foung Hawj, a Democrat from Woodbury, has been charged with first-degree burglary for allegedly breaking into his stepmother's home to retrieve his late father's ashes. The incident occurred in February 2024, and Hawj was arrested early Monday morning at the home in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, where he was found in the basement dressed in black clothing.

According to the charges, Hawj told his stepmother that he was trying to get some of his father's belongings, including his ashes, because she had ceased contact with the family after his father's death in March 2023. Hawj's father, Roderick Mitchell, left his entire estate to Hawj's stepmother. Hawj admitted to police that he left Woodbury around 1 a.m. to get to the house and entered through a window.

Hawj, 49, was released on the conditions that he not contact his stepmother and comply with a harassment restraining order. While Senate Republicans called for his resignation, Senate Democrats indicated that Hawj will be allowed to return to his duties. Hawj's attorney said the charges are "flabbergasting" and that the dispute arose from a fractured relationship between Hawj and his stepmother.

Why this matters: Hawj's arrest could have political implications for the Democrats, who control the Minnesota Senate by a slim one-seat margin. The case also highlights the complexities and emotions that can arise in family disputes over estates and personal belongings after the death of a loved one.

Hawj acknowledged that he entered the home through a basement window and was caught soon after. The charge of first-degree burglary carries a sentence of anywhere from six months to 20 years in prison. Hawj's next court appearance is set for June 10, but may be delayed to give his attorney time to review the evidence. "I was just trying to honor my father's wishes," Hawj said of the incident. The case is still pending, and Hawj has not yet entered a plea.

Key Takeaways

  • MN state senator Foung Hawj charged with 1st-degree burglary
  • Allegedly broke into stepmother's home to retrieve late father's ashes
  • Hawj's father left entire estate to stepmother, causing dispute
  • Charges could have political implications for Democrats in MN Senate
  • Hawj faces 6 months to 20 years in prison, next court date June 10