North Dakota BCI Has To Reimburse Nearly $50,000 For Seized Pay Loader

Back in June I wrote about an incident in Forbes, ND (in the southeast part of the state near the South Dakota border) where a state Bureau of Criminal Investigations agent seized the phone of an onlooker during a raid and allegedly deleted photographs of the raid off her phone.

At the time I noted that the BCI may have botched the raid itself as well. They seized an allegedly stolen pay-loader and returned it an out of state company despite a judge ordering that the loader remain in the state until its ownership is settled.

Now, according to the Associated Press, the State of North Dakota has to reimburse the man who was in possession of the loader nearly $50,000:

ELLENDALE, N.D. (AP) – An Ellendale judge has found a North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent in contempt of court and ordered the state to pay nearly $49,000.

Agents confiscated a pay loader in May from Darrell Schrum’s shop in Forbes after an investigation found it was stolen. Schrum told authorities he didn’t know about the theft and said he bought the loader in good faith.

Schrum’s lawyers argued BCI special agent Arnie Rummel gave the loader away without approval and said he should be held in contempt.

Judge Daniel Narum agreed to that Tuesday and ordered the state to reimburse Schrum for $48,840, plus the other costs and fees.

Ouch.

The BCI hasn’t exactly been covering itself in glory. In another case pertaining to a stolen loader (I can’t tell if the cases are related to one another), a family business in Ellendale was raided by the BCI and the owners, who feel they bought the loader in good faith, didn’t appreciate the way they were treated:

In January, a deputy with the Dickey County Sheriff’s Office checked the serial number and told the Gilberts it may be stolen, Kristi Gilbert said.

“We told them we were good-faith purchasers,” she said. “We told them the machine was not going anywhere.”

On Aug. 5, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation officers came to the Gilberts’ business with a search warrant and seized the loader.

“BCI treated us like we were dumb and we were thieves,” Gilbert said. “We had customers in the shop. Our kids were here when the BCI agents came in.”

Apparently these loaders weren’t reported stolen until after they’d already been sold to unwitting buyers. Meaning the people they loaders were seized from weren’t actually guilty of committing any crimes. Yet, given the reports of multiple people who have interacted with BCI while these loaders were being taken back, it seems as though those people were treated as criminals anyway.

It’s worth noting that the BCI also ruffled some feathers with a car chase in Fargo/West Fargo that included a high-speed chase across a golf course and officers with guns drawn inside of West Acres Mall.

Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, under whose office the BCI resides, seems to be on cruise control for another four-year term (Kiara Krauss-Parr is the sacrificial lamb Democrats put up against him this year), but even so I think he owes the public an explanation for how his officers are conducting themselves.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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