Forest Lake firefighter charged with arson had once failed back...

Full story: TwinCities.com

John David Berken should not be a Forest Lake firefighter, his background check suggested.
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1 - 20 of 67 Comments Last updated May 6, 2009
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Rose

Minneapolis, MN

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#1
Apr 8, 2009
 

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I actually like the mug shot of Norm Coleman much better than this man. Wow? This photo almost scares me. Volunteer fire department hero? Wow? He looks worse than people that I've seen on the streets. Give him 3 months in jail and spin him back in Minnesota.
Get a Grip

Maple Grove, MN

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#3
Apr 9, 2009
 

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What a major league douche-bag this guy is. Throw him in jail and he can spend some time pretending he is the warden.
A Fire Fighters GF

Minneapolis, MN

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#4
Apr 9, 2009
 

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This man can not even be called a Fire Fighter. The trouble he caused is just pure out crazy. He put the lives of many people on the line, for what?? So he could play like a Firemen???? I dont think so. Did he honestly think he would get away with it? What if there had been a bad accident or a huge house fire where people needed the Fire department? Well!!! they were to busy putting out a fire that some CRAZY man started for his own joy. People could of lost their homes, business or even worse their lives. I hope the judge looks at all the possibilities of what could of happened when this man goes to court. The men and women who server on Volunteer Fire Departments take their job seriously, they risk their own lives to help others. I personly know quit a few of them. I just want to say a BIG Thank you for all those men and women who worked hard that day to put out the Carlos Avery fire. Don't let some CRAZY man make you feel any different about what you do. You know the old saying "There is always one bad apple in the bunch", Well he was the bad apple. Keep up the good work..
Nancy Pal Osi

Saint Paul, MN

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#6
Apr 9, 2009
 

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ONLY IN MYAMERICA wrote:
This wack-o is not the only one who gets off on being a "public hero" There is a syndrome and we need a name for it...something to do with a badge!!
Would this even be an issue if the then mayor, Smith, would have stayed out of the hiring process? While Berken is certainly culpable for his actions so should the then mayor, Smith, be for his.
Tired of it all

South Saint Paul, MN

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#7
Apr 9, 2009
 

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Mr. Obama, we have another candidate for your cabinet Sir. Should blend in great with the other tax cheats and law breakers you currently have on staff now.
Billy Boy

Inver Grove Heights, MN

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#8
Apr 9, 2009
 

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Terry Smith, Are you sleeping very good lately knowing that your boy wonder was charged with starting the fire. Without you he would have never been on the force. Happy Easter Mr Smith and may your ham be dry and over cooked.
St Paul Girl

Minneapolis, MN

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#9
Apr 9, 2009
 

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I think the only reason this man was rehired is because of his donation of a truck that was used by this fire dept. It was clearly bribery, and I hope he and the morons that hired him are held fully accountable.
Natasha Badanaff

Saint Paul, MN

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#11
Apr 9, 2009
 

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Ths guy was bad news and somebody didn't use any common sense. I can see wanting to offer people another chance for a one off, but this guy had all the bad traits. What happened to stand up, integrity and honesty.

“SAY WHAT ???????????????”

Since: Mar 09

BULLRUSH

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#12
Apr 9, 2009
 

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I hope thats a police mug shot, and not a Sears portrait Johnny B,cause if it's a Sears portrait go get your money back.
jq public

Hastings, MN

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#13
Apr 9, 2009
 
Much better article in star-trib. More details that make you go WTF!
Ooooo-Ahhhhhhh

Saint Paul, MN

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#14
Apr 9, 2009
 

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clam4myclown wrote:
I hope thats a police mug shot, and not a Sears portrait Johnny B,cause if it's a Sears portrait go get your money back.
It's the mug shot; didn't you notice the Burning stare?!
Fire in the hole

Saint Paul, MN

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#15
Apr 9, 2009
 

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This single act of stupidity could bring down the great legacy of Jessie Ventura. Ventura allowed fireworks back in the state, now thanks to this guy, his immage will be tarnished!
The friend

Marshall, MN

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#16
Apr 9, 2009
 

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Folks..........don't throw stones or get out the
pitch forks yet.

I've known the man for years and he has been the
most charming & giving person to me & my family.

He has not been convicted of this crime, so don't
put him and his family through the laundry!

Hit the roads folks.....there is nothing to see here.....just smoke and mirror from the authorities agian.
throw mayor in prison

Minneapolis, MN

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#17
Apr 9, 2009
 

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along with this creep! Listen to this, copied for StarTrib
former Mayor Terry Smith said he called a meeting with Robinson and Fire Chief Gary Sigfrinius.
"I felt it was discriminating to bar employment to an individual based on the information given within the parameters of the city application," Smith said. "John Berken was an exemplary citizen, a director on our Chamber of Commerce.
"He'd been in trouble for check forgery. But if a person pays his dues and turns his life around, I don't see a concern there."
remember that name.. Terry Smith.. do NOT EVER put his criminal back in ANY office.
this proves the criminals are our very own politicians and I'm SO SICK of this crap I could puke
throw mayor in prison

Minneapolis, MN

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#18
Apr 9, 2009
 

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The friend wrote:
Folks..........don't throw stones or get out the
pitch forks yet.
I've known the man for years and he has been the
most charming & giving person to me & my family.
He has not been convicted of this crime, so don't
put him and his family through the laundry!
Hit the roads folks.....there is nothing to see here.....just smoke and mirror from the authorities agian.
Give me a break! The guys a creep in the biggest way! He STOLE 4 million bux! Lives off stealing from other people and then.... when he figures it's only a matter of time before the Chief gets enough documentation to fire his creepy butt, he sets a fire!

I say put him in prison for a LONG time and the mayor needs to be publicly lashed!

and HOW in the SAM HE77 did he get the position of "director on our Chamber of Commerce" ??

Background checks need to be done before ANYONE can run for office. This is terrible.

and OH what an eye opener!

Forest lake residents, throw em all out! If Terry was in office a long time, make certain all peoples hired under him are gone too
Good Guy

Marshall, MN

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#19
Apr 9, 2009
 

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Someone just puked!

Horray!!

“KNOW WHO's LAUGHING”

Since: Mar 09

The Freight yard

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#22
Apr 9, 2009
 
let the chips fall where they may.

“WHAT WERE YA THINKIN ?”

Since: Mar 09

CUCKOO'S NEST

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#23
Apr 9, 2009
 

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Burning Down The House lyrics

Watch out you might get what you're after
Cool babies strange but not a stranger
I'm an ordinary guy
Burning down the house

Hold tight wait till the party's over
Hold tight We're in for nasty weather
There has got to be a way
Burning down the house

Here's your ticket pack your bag: time for jumpin' overboard
The transportation is here
Close enough but not too far, Maybe you know where you are
Fightin' fire with fire

All wet hey you might need a raincoat
Shakedown dreams walking in broad daylight
Three hun-dred six-ty five de-grees
Burning down the house

It was once upon a place sometimes I listen to myself
Gonna come in first place
People on their way to work baby what did you except
Gonna burst into flame

My house S'out of the ordinary
That's might Don't want to hurt nobody
Some things sure can sweep me off my feet
Burning down the house

No visible means of support and you have not seen nuthin' yet
Everything's stuck together
I don't know what you expect starring into the TV set
Fighting fire with fire
cecon

Plymouth, MN

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#24
Apr 9, 2009
 
Mr. Berken has obvious problems. Almost as bad: The people responsible for hiring him. What an incredibly poor choice. These people really screwed up and need to be held accountable for what happened.

Since: Mar 09

Minneapolis, MN

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#25
Apr 9, 2009
 
Leaving alone the potential danger and damage to people's homes, that's just a crying shame about Carlos Avery. It's one of our biggest local wildlife reserves, and it also gets a lot of hunting traffic, particularly in the fall. I wonder how resilient its wetland plants will be.... They may have some species there to recover from fire quickly, if the place has been well-managed with native prairie species and so on.

Whether our stark-eyed firefighter turns out to be the real 'hero complex' criminal or another Richard Jewell is an open question, but whoever did this wasn't just affecting people. More than 1,500 acres is a lot of habitat.

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