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Grand Forks police informant’s sentencing mysteriously canceled

Steven Harold Anderson

A Grand Forks County judge has canceled a sentencing hearing for a police informant convicted of theft but has not revealed his reason for doing so.

Steven Harold Anderson, 59, was set to be sentenced on a felony theft charge Friday, but his hearing was canceled without documentation or explanation in court records as of Friday afternoon.

The presiding judge, Lawrence Jahnke, did not return requests for comment.

Assistant State’s Attorney Haley Wamstad told the Herald she could not disclose Jahnke’s reasoning for the cancellation, but she said she believes the hearing will be rescheduled for sometime next week.

Information given to law enforcement by Anderson as an informant led to Grand Forks defense attorney Henry Howe and two of his clients being charged with conspiracy to commit murder in Walsh County.

Charges have since been dismissed against Howe, who, along with his attorney David Thompson, arrived at the Grand Forks County Courthouse on Friday only to discover the hearing was canceled.

“Apparently, according to court staff, Judge Jahnke canceled this hearing with no explanation,” Thompson said. “The only notation is that there is no future hearings scheduled.”

“That is nothing less than bizarre,” he said.

The hearing had been rescheduled from last week because Anderson allegedly was in the emergency room. Calls to confirm this were not returned by Anderson’s attorney David Ogren.

“The court owes the public an explanation for why this sentencing hearing for this scam artist has now disappeared into thin air,” Thompson said. “Since it was under Judge Janhke’s authority that this hearing was canceled, I believe that Judge Jahnke owes the public an explanation right away.”

Anderson has a long criminal history with convictions for theft by swindle, theft by deception and writing bad checks in North Dakota, Minnesota, Idaho and South Dakota. 

His most recent case involves using bad checks to purchase vehicles from a car dealership and writing a check to himself, overdrawing a total of nearly $17,400 from a Grand Forks bank account.