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White supremacist Cobb set for sentencing April 29

Craig Cobb is led into a Burleigh County Courtroom by Grant County Sheriff Steve Bay and other law enforcement for a hearing in Bismarck on Thursday. (Kevin Cederstrom/Forum News Service)

BISMARCK – The prosecutor who struck a plea deal with a white supremacist accused of terrorizing people in the small North Dakota town of Leith said Monday he’s “disappointed” in errors contained in a pre-sentence investigation report.

“I would expect it to be accurate, and it’s not,” Grant County State’s Attorney Todd Schwarz said.

Sentencing is set for April 29 for Craig Cobb, who moved to Leith a year ago and bought up property there with hopes of creating an all-white enclave.

Cobb was originally charged with seven counts of felony terrorizing in connection with four incidents that occurred over two days in November, including one that happened as he and follower Kynan Dutton were on an armed patrol of property in Leith that Cobb owned at the time. One of the charges was later dismissed.

As part of a plea agreement that would require Cobb to serve four years of supervised probation but no additional jail time, he entered guilty pleas Feb. 27 to one charge of felony terrorizing and five counts of misdemeanor menacing.

Judge David Reich said he wanted more information before accepting the plea agreement and sentencing Cobb, and he ordered a pre-sentence investigation, including a psychological evaluation. The investigator’s report was filed in court late last week.

Schwarz said he couldn’t describe the errors in the report, which is sealed from public view, and he said he doesn’t know what their impact might be on the plea agreement.

“I would hope the judge hasn’t made a decision until he hears all the arguments, and some of the errors are plainly evident by reading it,” he said.

Schwarz said the errors are “uncharacteristic” of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Division of Parole and Probation, which conducted the pre-sentence investigation. He said some of the errors will be likely cleared up before sentencing and some during it.

Cobb, who is being held at the Mercer County Jail in Stanton on $100,000 bond, said in a phone interview from jail Monday that he too found errors in the report.

Cobb said if he’s released on probation, he plans to move to his home state of Missouri if that state’s probation system will accept him.

“I’m just going to go and try to get a 62-year-old girlfriend and companion,” he said. “I want to retire from white nationalism, because I’ve had it.”

Last week, Leith Mayor Ryan Schock, City Councilman Lee Cook and New Leipzig resident Gregory Bruce, the city’s website developer, filed a complaint with the North Dakota Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board alleging unprofessional conduct and possible unethical practices by Schwarz. They’re asking the board to censure Schwarz, remove him from the Cobb case and appoint a special prosecutor to bring Cobb to trial.

Schwarz said Monday he doesn’t believe the complaint will affect the case, which he said he has handled properly.

“I’ve done what I’ve had to do,” he said.

Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.