Sandy Blunt was the victim of prosecutorial misconduct on the part of a North Dakota state prosecutor, accused and convicted of ‘crimes’ that the prosecutor knew – in advance – were not crimes.
That’s the conclusion of an article authored by Peter Rousmaniere in today’s Risk and Insurance magazine.
Here’s an excerpt from Rousmaniere’s article:
In late 2006, state prosecutor Cynthia Feland began to investigate Blunt. In April 2007, she charged him with criminal misapplication of entrusted property. Virtually all of the evidence was trivial, such as the $320 the fund spent on lunches at an employee summit and others sums for gift certificates, flowers and small employee bonuses.
Blunt was also charged with misusing an employee’s license plate number in trying to identify who had leaked WSI’s payroll data to reporters.
Blunt, no stranger to public bureaucracies, responded that this spending was normal even for public enterprises and consistent with prior WSI practices. He also said that neither he nor his advisors knew the expenses were illegal.
In August 2007 a district court threw the case out as lacking merit. The prosecutor won a reversal from the North Dakota Supreme Court. In December 2007, the state fund board, under political pressure, terminated Blunt.
Blunt’s criminal trial took place in December 2008. Feland, lacking a respectable case, tarted up the criminal count with three more heavier-looking allegations, one of which the judge threw one out (claiming that Blunt had improperly awarded a grant to a volunteer firefighter association).
The two remaining new charges dealt with Blunt’s handling of an employee he had recruited, then forced out. Supposedly, Blunt had allowed the departing employee to earn his unused sick leave and also did not seek repayment of relocation expenses incurred when the person came onboard.
After Blunt was convicted, it came to light that neither the prosecutor nor the state auditor’s office had disclosed in discovery or in court testimony a state auditor’s memo that exonerated Blunt of error relating to the forced-out employee. [emphasis added]”
You read that correctly. Blunt was not only convicted on the basis of charges that the prosecutor knew were not criminal, but the prosecutor failed to provide that information to Blunt before the trial, a clear violation of the law.
Blunt’s case is currently on appeal, and he is waiting to hear on a decision from the North Dakota Supreme Court. If and when, the Court does the right thing and throws out his conviction, Blunt should sue the prosecutor and her accomplices for every dime they have and ever will have. Their behavior was that egregious.
What the state of North Dakota has done to Sandy Blunt is reprehensible.
What does this mean for you?
If this could happen to a person as above-board and completely honest as Sandy Blunt, it could happen to you.