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Rape suspect arrested in Moorhead given tobacco license, opens smoke shop

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News Grand Forks,North Dakota 58203 http://www.grandforksherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/field/image/omane_0.jpg?itok=Zr6Kxkik
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Rape suspect arrested in Moorhead given tobacco license, opens smoke shop
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

MOORHEAD – The man arrested on rape charges while applying for a tobacco license at City Hall here last week was given his license and opened his shop on Monday.

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The smoke shop of Daniel Omane, who faces felony rape and assault charges in Ransom County, N.D., is called Hookahs on Main. It’s in the former Pyromaniacs Smoke Shop building at 815 Main Ave.

Omane, 31, was given a license after the city attorney reviewed the matter, said City Clerk Michelle French.

She said Omane hasn’t been convicted, so he was allowed a tobacco license. Even if he is convicted, it would be up to the City Council to revoke the license, French said.

“Anytime that there is a revoking of a license or even a suspension, it would be a council decision,” she said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Omane was at the shop, which still featured welcome mats bearing the Pyromaniacs logo, but he said he didn’t have time to comment at the moment.

Omane came to City Hall last Thursday to check on the status of his tobacco license, which he had applied for earlier this month.

French called police to check on the status of Omane’s background check, which is required to obtain the license, and police told her they would look into it. About five minutes later, an officer arrived at City Hall and arrested Omane, French said.

City Attorney John Shockley said a conviction on someone’s record – whether it’s felony or misdemeanor – does not mean automatic revocation or denial of a tobacco license. Instead, that information can be taken into consideration by the City Council and “serve as grounds for denial of an application or serve as a basis for revocation,” Shockley said.

The City Council voted Feb. 10 to deny the former owner of Pyromaniacs – Derek Bitar – a renewal of his tobacco license after learning that police had regularly received complaints of loud noise and parties at the business and at Bitar’s home.

Omane applied for a license the next day, French said.

If a license applicant or holder has any convictions involving the business, such as selling cigarettes to a minor, that would likely immediately disqualify them, Shockley said.

“But in this case, his license was issued to him because he hasn’t been convicted,” Shockley said of Omane. “He’s only been arrested and accused of committing those acts.”

French said if Omane is convicted, she likely wouldn’t be notified of it until another background check is completed. Another background check would be required during the annual license renewal, but the city could run another check at any time before that, she said.

It would ultimately be up to the discretion of the City Council to revoke the license, French said.

Mayor Del Rae Williams couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

Omane faces one count of Class AA gross sexual imposition and one count of Class C felony aggravated assault. The first charge carries with it a potential life sentence in prison, if convicted.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with criminal charges Feb. 7 in Ransom County (N.D.) District Court, Lisbon police Officer Bryan Johnson responded to a call from Lisbon Area Health Services reporting an alleged sexual assault on Nov. 11.

In a joint interview with Johnson and health officials, the alleged victim, a minor, said Omane raped her in a public park in Lisbon.

On Jan. 19, the affidavit alleges, the girl picked Omane out of a photo lineup.

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing and/or arraignment on April 23, according to online North Dakota court records.

A message left for Fallon Kelly, the Ransom County state’s attorney, was not returned Tuesday.

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Erik Burgess
Erik Burgess covers city and county government for The Forum. He started as the paper's night reporter in 2012, after graduating from Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. He was born and raised in Grand Forks, N.D., and also spent time interning at the Grand Forks Herald.  Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to letters@forumcomm.com
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