Nashville Saloon, Waseca

A Waseca Police Department vehicle parks outside Nashville Saloon, 108 S. State Street., as curious residents take a look at the closed establishment following criminal theft charges against one of the owners and reports of a fire inside overnight Wednesday. (Dana Melius/Waseca County News)

Nashville Saloon co-owner Rachelle Lynn Schoknect, 47, of Mankato, has been charged in Waseca County District Curt with felony theft.

The Waseca Police Department had been investigating the bar’s handling of pull tabs and electric tabs after being alerted by the Waseca Hockey Association board, according to the criminal complaint. The association reported a missing sum of $6,263.

The issues became more complicated Thursday morning, as a Waseca Police Department vehicle remained outside Nashville Saloon after a reported fire. Captain Kris Markeson of the Waseca Police Department said via email that about 4:36 a.m. Thursday police and the Waseca Fire Department responded to a 911 call reporting a fire inside the Nashville Saloon.

“Upon arrival, emergency responders located a small fire and worked to extinguish it and prevent its spread,” according to Markeson. “Damage to the inside of the building was minimal. No other buildings were affected and no one was injured.”

Markeson added that the cause of the first is being investigated by the Waseca Police Department with assistance from the Minnesota State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Whatever fire might have happened at Nashville Saloon did not impede business at the Pheasant Cafe next door, where staff reported no smoke damage and said they didn’t know anything about what had happened at Nashville Saloon.

Association board members attempted to get the funds in September to include for a scheduled audit. Members then joined local police, the complaint reported, and removed two boxes of pull tabs, audit logs and the tables that offer electric tabs from the bar.

Board members from the hockey association could tell the logs were not documented property, according to the complaint and the start-up money in the bottom drawer of each pull tab box was missing.

Schoknecht was the primary contact person with the hockey association, according to the complaint. She allegedly told police that part of her key to the safe had broken off in the lock and she was unable to access the funds. When told of the money due to the association, she said she would make that money available, according to the complaint.

Police returned to the bar Sept. 13, where Schoknecht said the safe had been fixed and contained about $4,000 and then said she’d have the remainder of the funds the month’s end.

But later in the day, the story changed, according to the complaint, as Schoknecht told a Waseca Police Department officer and association member that she had given all of the money to a Mankato attorney to build a civil case against former employees who she said stole the money, according to the complaint.

There were no reports of stolen money by Schoknecht to police prior to that discussion, the complaint stated. Also, the law firm allegedly told a hockey association member that the firm had not received such funds from Nashville Saloon or Schoknecht.

The following day, the complaint reported, an officer spoke with a former Nashville Saloon employee who said she only accessed the safe in front of Schoknecht twice and did not know the safe’s code.

Schoknecht’s first appearance on a felony theft by swindle charge in Waseca County District Court will be Oct. 30.

As of Thursday, morning, the state had taken no action on the bar’s liquor license.

Associate Editor Nancy Madsen contributed to this report.

Regional Managing Editor, Adams Publishing Group--Southern Minnesota/Western Division: St. Peter Herald, Waseca County News, Le Center Leader, Le Sueur News-Herald

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