MINOT, N.D.-A Minot event organizer is asking a judge to consider alleged criminal actions by the North Dakota Attorney General's Office in appealing an order that she turn over concert information to the office.
Terpeshore Maras Lindeman, an announced candidate for Minot mayor, had sought to organize "A Magic City Christmas" last December. It was canceled after coming under an investigation by the attorney general's Consumer Protection Division - an action that Maras Lindeman is challenging as illegal.
The Attorney General's Office had filed a case in North Central District Court before Judge Doug Mattson, asking the judge to compel Maras Lindeman to turn over information, such as concert contracts, to aid in the investigation. A hearing was held Feb. 27, and Mattson ruled for the attorney general.
Maras Lindeman now is asking misdemeanor charges of oppression, breech of duty, criminal conspiracy and harassment be brought against Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Public Information Officer Liz Brocker, and assistant attorney generals Brian Card and Parrell Grossman, who heads the consumer protection division, and Christopher Schroeder, an investigator in the consumer protection division.
She states in court documents that Stenehjem skirted compliance with state law, interfered with exercise of civil rights and conspired with others in the office to prevent compliance with the state's open records law.
Maras Lindeman had requested a copy of the consumer complaint against her that led to the investigation. The attorney general declined to provide a complaint based on state law that exempts attorney work product and investigative work.
In her filing, Maras Lindeman argues the investigation against her is based on the false premise that she was operating as a charitable organization that needed to register. She said the concert was a fundraiser for construction of a flood memorial monument, which is exempt from the law being used by the attorney general to pursue an investigation.
"No official complaint was presented as one did not exist," she wrote. "Information put together was using the deficiency of knowledge and weaponizing the law as opposed to its intended use."
She also alleges that Grossman "was the source and cause of such a frivolous investigation with the intent to cause harm, harass and cause distress to a citizen with the use of his public office."
She added Stenehjem and other employees aided Grossman and used their official capacity to attack a private citizen without a valid complaint. She suggested the office conspired with other public or private individuals, agencies or companies to "build a narrative of a case for the purpose of political gain and/or malicious motivating factors" to find her guilty of "unwarranted and baseless allegations" to hinder her ability to run for office.
Maras Lindeman makes the complaint of oppression under a section of the law that makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a public official to subject someone to mistreatment and deny the person's property rights. She alleges oppression occurred when the Attorney General's Office refused to turn over records regarding any complaint against her. She noted state law also makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a public servant to knowingly refuse to perform a duty. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable with up to a year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine.
The criminal conspiracy complaint refers to the conspiracy between the attorney general and employees to withhold information from her. Criminal conspiracy also is a Class A misdemeanor.
Maras Lindeman alleges she was criminally harassed by way of communication, indirect or direct, to cause damage to her reputation. She alleges Card and Schroeder put inaccurate information regarding her on the internet and communicated with the city recreation and/or parks departments in a way to infer bad character, with intent to damage her reputation.
Maras Lindeman provided an amended complaint in which she also alleges perjury and false statements on affidavits claiming she had been told numerous times not to use the Minot city coin in promotions.
"They falsely represented information and omitted exculpatory information about the case by citing information they knew was false, such as the communications between the complainant and the city of Minot," she wrote in the amended complaint.
"The People of North Dakota must see these Defendants stripped of their offices, their benefits, their liberty and their pensions, or they will watch as their civil officers continually ignore the law," she wrote. "When our law enforcement officers are used as a tool for political attacks, personal vendettas or non-compliant and illegal investigations, it (is) our duty to hold them accountable."
Her original court documents were filed March 29, and the Attorney General's Office has not yet responded.
Additionally, Maras Lindeman is appealing the judge's order based on financial burden. She stated the cost to provide texts and emails requested by the Attorney General exceed $5,000.