Missouri police chief forced mom to give up children, lied about court order, feds say

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A former Missouri chief of police accused of forcing a woman to give up custody of her children has pleaded guilty to a civil rights charge.

Marc Tragesser, 54, was charged with depriving a mother of her rights, a federal misdemeanor, according to court documents. The incident occurred in November 2018, when Tragesser was the police chief in Marble Hills, about 115 miles south of St. Louis.

Tragesser had gone to a home in Marble Hill home demanding to speak with a woman identified as K.N.C., court documents show. He, along with the paternal grandmother of K.N.C.’s children, demanded that the mother hand over her children to the grandmother.

Tragesser told K.N.C. that he had a court order, which prosecutors said was not true, that allowed him to legally take her children away.

When K.N.C. asked to see the court order, Tragesser “forcibly shoved (her) against the wall, dislodging her eyeglasses and causing injury to her head and shoulder,” court documents say. He then arrested the mother, along with her boyfriend, for “kidnapping” her children.

Tragesser agreed to release K.N.C. and her boyfriend after she agreed to turn over her children to their grandmother, who, according to court documents, had no custodial rights.

The grandmother then took the children, and the mother did not see them again until March 2019, prosecutors say.

Charles Banks, Tragesser’s lawyer, provided a statement to McClatchy News, saying his client takes “responsibility for his actions.”

“Back in 2018 Mr. Tragesser made a terrible error in judgment while attempting to enforce a child custody agreement. He now recognizes he tried to do the right thing in the worst possible way. And — it turns out — he was so wrong about the scope of his authority that his conduct veered into criminal liability,” Banks said in the statement.

”He is sincerely contrite, and after being held accountable by the Court, he looks forward to putting this case behind him so he can return to civilian life with his family. Marc no longer works in law enforcement,” Banks said.

Tragesser pleaded guilty on Thursday, Jan. 28 in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

The federal misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of $100,000. Tragesser, who had originally been indicted on a felony civil rights charge, has a sentencing date of May 24, according to the St. Loius Post-Dispatch..

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