The situation with the former Clarkfield School building has taken another unexpected turn following reports that Einar and August Agustsson of Clarkfield located technology start-up company Janulus (formerly Skajaquoda) are being investigated for fraud in their homeland of Iceland.

The situation with the former Clarkfield School building has taken another unexpected turn following reports that Einar and August Agustsson of Clarkfield located technology start-up company Janulus (formerly Skajaquoda) are being investigated for fraud in their homeland of Iceland.

According to an article published in Iceland Magazine on October 29, the Agustsson brothers are under investigation for fraud over approximately $350,000 raised in Kickstarter campaigns for the development and manufacturing of three products, a small solar panel attached to backpacks (The Solar Strap), a multi-use data cable and a portable windmill (Trinity).

The article states that the brothers “vehemently deny any wrongdoing,” but Kickstarter has frozen each of the Janulus Kickstarter campaigns. In addition, it states that there were numerous complaints about the products, which were either not delivered or did not function as indicated.

In the wake of favorable reviews by “Discovery News,” “techworld” and “Twin Cities Business,” a CBS Television Camera Crew was set to travel to Iceland to interview the brothers about their Trinity product, according to Iceland Magazine.

Things fall apart
Einar Agustsson is the Chief Executive Officer of the company which has claimed to develop renewable energy products  out of the former Clarkfield school building since Agustsson purchased the facility in May of 2013 for approximately $76,000.
Originally, Agustsson spoke of plans to retrofit the building into a research lab/facility that would be staffed by around 10 individuals. That has yet to come to fruition, but in the meantime Janulus used internet-based Kickstarter campaigns to develop their aforementioned products.

Red flags were raised in the Clarkfield community in the beginning of the year when the Agustsson family suddenly departed the country and failed to communicate the situation. According to Agustsson, the need to leave the country came as a surprise when his worker visa was not renewed. He said that he was unable to meet certain aspects of the original plan as it was laid out in the worker visa, but he thought he had accomplished enough to have the visa extended.

 “I had to leave or risk never being able to come back,” he said.

The aftermath of the departure is what has served as the rub for the City of Clarkfield, which has become increasingly aware of the deteriorating state of the building due to water damage from a burst pipe over the winter and what is said to be a leaky roof.

Clarkfield EDA members indicated were multiple attempts to contact Agustsson both through the building’s local caretaker and otherwise,  and that without the apparent response the city and EDA have looked to take steps, beginning over the summer, that would help to protect the structure as a community asset into the future.  

Einar Agustsson, however, would say during a Skype interview with the A/T in mid-October that the interview had was the first opportunity for him to have heard about the burst pipes and water leaks. He was not able to be reached in time for further comment prior to publication of this article.

Clarkfield’s course
During the Tuesday, October 13 Yellow Medicine County Board meeting City Councilman Neil Linscheid went before commissioners and received unanimous support of a resolution that would return the property to local ownership by using expedited delinquent tax enforcement.

In the state of Minnesota there is the ability to accelerate what would normally be a three year redemption period for Agustsson to become current on the delinquent taxes down to a shorter period of only five weeks.

First, the city had to produce an Affidavit of Abandonment stating the condition and state of the property, and now with both the approval of the Clarkfield City Council and the YMC County Board, Clarkfield attorney Heidi Torvik is able to file a complaint with the district court requesting the order.

According City Administrator, Rebecca Schrupp, Torvik is set to file the complaint next week. At which time, it will likely be at least six weeks before a judge would hear the case and then only upon the ruling would a, five-week countdown, which the Agustssons would have the opportunity to come up-to-date with delinquent taxes––ensue. At the end of that period, ownership would revert to the county if there is still non-payment.