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Justices reinstate former WSI chief's criminal charges

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Supreme Court reinstated two felony criminal charges Monday against the state's former Workforce Safety and Insurance chief, Charles "Sandy" Blunt, saying a district judge should not have required prosecutors to show ...

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Supreme Court reinstated two felony criminal charges Monday against the state's former Workforce Safety and Insurance chief, Charles "Sandy" Blunt, saying a district judge should not have required prosecutors to show Blunt personally profited from the spending.

The court reversed South Central District Judge Robert Wefald, who dismissed the case after a preliminary hearing last August.

"We conclude the district court erred in dismissing the criminal complaint against Blunt, and we reverse and remand for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion," the court said.

Burleigh County State's Attorney Richard Riha, whose assistants prosecuted Blunt and appealed Wefald's dismissal, said the case will now pick up where it left off, with the scheduling of an arraignment at which Blunt will enter a plea.

Nothing can be scheduled until the court administrator's office gets the file back from the Supreme Court and a local judge is assigned, a secretary at the South Central Judicial District's office said Monday.

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Every Supreme Court opinion is subject to a two-week delay before it becomes final, during which the unsuccessful party can ask the court to rehear the case. Such petitions are rarely granted.

Blunt was executive director and CEO of WSI from May 2004 to Dec. 6, 2007, when he was ousted by its board.

After a state auditor's performance audit in late 2006, Blunt was charged with two counts of misapplication of entrusted property related to expenditures he authorized for WSI employee gifts, refreshments, trinkets and bonuses, which could carry penalties of as much as $15,000 and 15 years in jail.

Blunt was forced out by a board vote Dec. 6, but was granted a nine-month severance package worth more than $142,000.

Blunt still lives in Bismarck.

On the Net:

www.ndcourts.com/court/opinions/20070247.htm

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