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Cloquet man pleads guilty in burglary case

A 34-year-old Cloquet man was arrested on suspicion of alleged burglary in April by Fond du Lac police officers.

Branden David Welch was charged with burglary in the second and third degree, both felony charges. In a plea agreement Nov. 4 in Sixth District Carlton County Court, Welch pleaded guilty to the second-degree burglary charge and the third-degree charge was dropped. Welch also waived any rights to a jury trial.

According to the criminal complaint:

On April 29, Fond du Lac police responded to a suspected burglary on the 3100 block of Bergquist Drive, within Carlton County.

Upon arrival, officers learned the residence was the summer home of the reporting party’s parents. Officers observed that both the residence and two garages on the property had been entered. The officers observed evidence of forced entry at the residence and initially noted a number of items taken from the residence including firearms. Officers photographed the scene and collected fingerprints and DNA evidence.

During the course of the investigation, officers suspected neighbors and their associates were involved in the burglary after automated pawn system records showed that items from the burglary were pawned by associates of that residence, plus interviews and other evidence indicated they may have been involved.

On May 9, officers executed a search warrant at the neighboring home. During the search of the residence and a vehicle on the premises belonging to Branden David Welch, 34, officers located items from the burglary in both Welch’s vehicle and in the residence.

Officers later collected a cigarette which they had found under a window in the burgled residence. That cigarette was tested and found to have Branden Welch’s DNA.

Officers spoke with Welch, who allegedly admitted to entering the garage and taking an item from within and to entering the residence to retrieve items.

Officers spoke with another suspect, Sean Christopher Rousseau, 25, who allegedly admitted that he used a screwdriver to pry open a door to a garage at the residence and took an item from within. Rousseau also stated that he had seen items from the burglary at the neighboring residence but denied taking part in the burglary.

Officers spoke with another suspect who told officers that Welch told him in jail that he was involved with the burglary. Later in the interview, the suspect admitted he, too, was involved with the burglary, stating he had assisted Rousseau and Welch with breaking into the residence. He indicated he assisted with moving items to the nearby residence.

That suspect said the parties knew the residents were out of town for a long period of time and that he only participated once, but knew Rousseau and Welch had gone to the residence and taken items multiple times.

Officers later spoke with an additional witness who indicated Rousseau and Welch had admitted to being involved in the burglary.

Welch will appear in Carlton County Court Dec.15 in Sixth District Carlton County Court for sentencing.

Sean Christopher Rousseau is also facing charges of burglary in the second and third degree. He had his first hearing Nov. 2 and will appear at the Sixth District Carlton County for his next hearing Nov. 14.