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REGIONAL BRIEFS: Student accused of using iPhone to peep on girls

From the Forum News Service

North Dakota

Court rejects appeal to save Sioux nickname

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- In what may be the final chapter in the fight over the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname, a federal appeals court Wednesday affirmed a lower court's judgment against the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe in its effort to save the nickname.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis upheld the ruling last year by U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson that the tribe lacked standing to sue the NCAA over its policy discouraging the use of American Indian names and images by member schools.

"The committee has not shown that the NCAA acted with discriminatory intent," the appeals court stated in its opinion. "There is no evidence that the NCAA enacted the policy in order to eradicate Sioux culture, as the committee alleges."

The court also discounted the tribal committee's primary contention, that Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux elders authorized UND's use of the name in a 1969 ceremony.

Reed Soderstrom, the Minot attorney who has represented the tribe in its fight against the NCAA, said his efforts to save the nickname and logo were finished, and that he doesn't expect another petition drive to put the issue before voters again.

Last June, voters in the North Dakota primary election endorsed retirement of the nickname, and the State Board of Higher Education directed UND to retire the nickname and Indian head logo, which the university has done.


Another arrest warrant issued for ex-Bison player

FARGO -- A second arrest warrant has been issued for a former North Dakota State University football player accused of not serving the community service ordered after he admitted to faking signatures on an election petition last fall.

Don Carter, 21, is one of 15 defendants who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges last fall for faking signatures on failed petitions seeking statewide votes to establish an outdoor heritage fund and legalize medical marijuana.

Ten of those 15 were Bison football players, while three of them, including Carter, were former players. All 15 received deferred impositions that will clear their public records if they successfully complete a little less than a year of unsupervised probation, which included a requirement to complete 50 hours of community service.

Carter is accused of not doing the community service and was due in court Tuesday.

A spokeswoman for the Cass County Attorney's Office said Carter didn't show up at the hearing, prompting authorities to issue an arrest warrant. An arrest warrant was issued earlier this month for another of the defendants, former Bison star running back D.J. McNorton, who is also accused of failing to do his community service.


President grants disaster declarations in N.D.

BISMARCK -- President Barack Obama on Wednesday approved Gov. Jack Dalrymple's request to declare disasters to help flood recovery efforts on the Spirit Lake Reservation and in 16 North Dakota counties.

"With the disaster declaration approved, we can ensure that local, state and federal resources are available for critical flood recovery assistance," Dalrymple said in a statement.

The declaration includes the counties of Benson, Bottineau, Cass, Cavalier, Eddy, Foster, McHenry, Pembina, Ramsey, Renville, Richland, Rolette, Towner, Trail, Walsh and Wells.


Oilfield accident victim identified as Louisiana man

POWERS LAKE, N.D. -- The man who died over the weekend in an accident at a drilling rig site was identified today as Coby Thibodeaux, 35, of Eunice, La., the Burke County Sheriff's Office said.

Thibodeaux died as a result of injuries he suffered when a payloader backed over him, authorities said. The incident happened about 12:20 p.m. Saturday at an Oasis Petroleum well site near County Road 11 and 90th Street Northwest near Powers Lake.

Thibodeaux was engaged to be married and had three daughters, according to an online obituary in Louisiana.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating. It was reported to OSHA that Thibodeaux worked for Drilling Solutions, said Eric Brooks, area director of the Bismarck OSHA office.


N.D. sees large jump in taxable sales from 2011 to 2012

BISMARCK -- North Dakota saw a more than $5 billion increase in sales and purchases, or a 28.7 percent jump, from 2011 to 2012, according to annual reports released Wednesday.

During the fourth quarter of 2012, the state's taxable sales and purchases were $6.74 billion, up 9.7 percent from $6.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. For calendar year 2012, taxable sales and purchases were more than $25.29 billion, growing 28.7 percent from 2011's $19.6 billion total.

Tax Commissioner Cory Fong said the state's economy is at a more sustainable pace now than in the last few years, and he anticipates a slowdown in the near future.

"This will likely become our new normal," he said in a release. "A steadying in our growth will allow us to catch our breath, so to speak, so we can better meet the needs in those areas that are growing at a record-setting pace."

The reports show many industries grew during 2012. Construction grew by 52.2 percent; mining and oil extraction grew 43.6 percent; financial, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing were up by 37.1 percent; and wholesale trade grew 36.6 percent.


Men plead guilty in deadly crashes

FARGO -- Two Spirit Lake Nation tribal members were sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Fargo for causing two deadly accidents while driving drunk, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Jamie Lee Belgarde, 38, St. Michael, was sentenced to two years in prison for a crash in June in the reservation that killed a passenger, his brother Donald Belgarde Jr.

Jamie Belgarde will have three years of probation after his release and was ordered to pay $4,500 in restitution to the reservation. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in March.

Louis John Dunn, 36, Fort Totten, was sentenced to three years and five months in prison for a head-on collision in October in the reservation that killed Andrew Greywater, the driver of the other vehicle.

Dunn will have three years of probation after his release. He pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in March.


State's longest-serving judge to retire

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- District Judge Joel Medd of Grand Forks, currently the longest-serving district judge in the state, plans to retire Sept. 1, he told the governor in a letter Tuesday.

"It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve the people of the great State of North Dakota as a judge for almost 38 years, starting in 1975," his letter said.

Medd, who was born in Langdon and grew up in Anamoose, is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and its School of Law. He served as Benson County judge after law school and went on to become Williams County judge, among other positions. Gov. Art Link appointed him to the Northeast Central Judicial District in 1979. He was later elected to the position, starting in 1980.



MSUM president announces plan to retire

MOORHEAD, Minn. -- Minnesota State University Moorhead President Edna Szymanski announced Wednesday that she plans to retire next year.

Szymanski, who became the university's 10th president on July 1, 2008, informed Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor Steven Rosenstone of her decision last fall, according to a statement the university released Wednesday.

"The proudest day of my career occurred when I joined this exceptional academic community," Szymanski said in the statement. "But as my husband of 40 years and I discussed our retirement plans, we decided that we would like to spend more time together, expand my garden, exercise more regularly, travel extensively and enjoy winter in a warmer climate."

With the university beginning its 125th anniversary celebration this summer, Szymanski said she felt the timing seemed right to announce her retirement, which will be effective June 30, 2014.

She and her husband, Michael, will make their home in the Detroit Lakes area.


Man pleads guilty in case with nearly 4,000 porn images

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A plea agreement was reached Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court for a 38-year-old Willmar man charged with possessing child pornography downloaded from the Internet.

Stephen Titrud pleaded guilty to one felony count of possession of electronic pornography images and an amended count of possessing child pornography in violation of state statute.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 8.

As part of the plea agreement, the county attorney's office said it will limit its sentencing request to the middle of the penalty range.

Titrud was arrested this year after an investigation uncovered nearly 4,000 images and videos of child pornography on his computer. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children identified 540 of the images as belonging to 114 children known to be victims of exploitation.

The investigation began in 2011 when agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children division launched a program that automatically trolls suspected IP addresses for pornography. A video showing child pornography allegedly was downloaded via file sharing from an IP address identified as belonging to Titrud. A search warrant was issued for his computer and hundreds of pornographic images of children were subsequently found, according to the complaint filed against him in court.


Student accused of using iPhone to peep on girls

WOODBURY, Minn. -- A college student used his smartphone last month to record two preteen girls inside a changing room in Woodbury, authorities said.

Caleb David Wolfgram, 24, of Columbus, was charged last week with three felony counts, each accusing him of interfering with privacy.

A criminal complaint said police were called after two 11-year-old girls reported seeing a white iPhone appear under the door of a changing room at The Gap at Woodbury Lakes shopping center.

Police generated a close-up photo of the suspect using surveillance footage from nearby stores. A worker at a neighboring store said the suspect had purchased merchandise with a credit card, and police tracked that transaction to Wolfgram. Another area employee also recognized the suspect, saying she went to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with him.

The next day, police tracked Wolfgram to the UW-RF campus -- where he played for the university's hockey team -- and followed him as he went back to Woodbury Lakes, where he was arrested.

The complaint says Wolfgram admitted to police that he had used his iPhone to record the two girls and another video shot under a woman's skirt.

If convicted on one of the three charges, he faces a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine. His first court appearance is set for July 11.


Red Lake man pleads guilty to brutal assault

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Red Lake man accused of cutting another man's neck with speaker wire pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

James Waybenais, 19, entered his plea on a charge of assault resulting in serious bodily inury.

In doing so, he admitted that, on Sept. 11, he struck the victim with hands and feet in a home on the Red Lake Indian Reservation. He then tied speaker wire around the victim's neck and dragged the victim into a bedroom, leaving an ear-to-ear laceration that was considered life-threatening.

Waybenais faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. His sentencing has not been scheduled.