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Minnesota plane and horse thief again a wanted man

Geoffrey Biteman

A northwest Minnesota man convicted in recent months of stealing a plane in Roseau County, a horse trailer in Clearwater County and a horse in Marshall County is wanted again. Now his mother wants him in jail, too.

Geoffrey Marshall Biteman, who turned 19 in January, has not kept in touch with his probation officer in Bagley so a warrant has been issued for his arrest, according to the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Department.

He got a lot of attention last fall after he was charged with “borrowing” a 1971 Cessna stored at the small Roseau airport many times over several months and flying it to Thief River Falls where he was living and also to a North Dakota farm where he worked briefly.

Other crimes soon came to light in other jurisdictions.

Biteman’s mother, Mariann Biteman, told the Herald Sunday that he stole her flat-screen television and she complained about it to Roseau police last week.

He also took $960 she gave him to haul her things from Roseau to Sweet Home, Ore., where she moved in February, she said. Instead he pocketed the money and left her things in a neighbor’s farm shed, she said.

“He needs to get serious really quick,” Mariann Biteman said. “I don’t know how to help him. I shouldn’t have bailed him out as many times as I did.”

That’s why she filed a complaint against him.

“I want him to go to jail,” she said, because that’s the only way she can see him getting the help he needs and to stop his misbehavior. “No one in their right mind would do what he’s been doing.”

Many crimes

Biteman has been in court a lot in the past several months.

On Dec. 19, he was sentenced in Clearwater County to 60 days in jail for stealing a horse trailer. On Jan. 6, he was sentenced in Roseau County to 90 days for operating the Cessna without the owner’s consent and a concurrent 60 days for stealing it. On March 18, he was sentenced in Marshall County to 30 days in jail for stealing a quarter horse from a county resident.

He was also sentenced to supervised probation for all the crimes, the longest for 10 years.

Biteman used the stolen horse trailer and a big new pickup truck to haul the stolen horse to an auction in Verndale, Minn., in July. But suspicious officials there quickly voided the sale, later returning the horse to its owner. Biteman’s pickup soon was repossessed because he didn’t make any payments.

In the meantime, he was flying the plane in and out of Roseau. On his last flight one night in October he landed the plane on the road and taxied it into a St. Thomas, N.D., farmer’s yard. He was apparently late for a night-shift hauling sugar beets.

Biteman soon rolled the beet truck and was hospitalized with injuries.

He soon was caught up in investigations into his thefts and the airplane owners retrieved it from the farm.

Biteman owes $6,200 in restitution and fines in Clearwater County, about $450 in Marshall County and $1,900 in Roseau County, according to court records.

Flight enthusiast

Mariann Biteman said she introduced her son to flying when he was 3 and they lived near Seattle. “I’ve got a video of that. For his third birthday, he took an instructional flight. He was so little, they had to find phone books and prop him up so he could see.”

That intrigued him so he constantly would talk to pilots and family friends from their Mormon church in Washington, asking to be taken on flights and be allowed to take the controls, she said. “So he’s been flying forever.”

In about 2008, she moved from Washington to Roseau, seeking more affordable housing for Geoffrey and her younger son. Recently, she moved to a smaller home in Oregon, in part because Geoffrey Biteman had moved out on his own.

The two of them haven’t talked for a week or more and she isn’t sure where he’s living; he tends to stay with friends.

Clearwater County Attorney Matt Headley said an arrest warrant was issued last week for Biteman for violating his probation, partly related to his horse theft conviction in Marshall County. But Marshall County Attorney Don Aandal said he’s looking for Biteman, too, for some minor charges, including making a public nuisance.

Mariann Biteman said some of those charges involve her son’s horses getting loose. But those no doubt are horses he has stolen and is keeping in someone’s pasture in Marshall County, she said. People who know her have told her their horses are missing, too, she said.

“He’s incredibly smart,” she said. “He can be very nice. But you can’t believe what he says. He embellishes things. It’s such a waste.”