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Dale Wetzel, Associated Press Writer, Published August 27 2010

Lawyer for Blunt requests dismissal

BISMARCK – Former North Dakota workers compensation director Sandy Blunt should have his felony conviction for misspending public funds dismissed because prosecutors withheld evidence before his trial, Blunt’s lawyer argued Thursday.

Prosecutors did not turn over copies of a Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent’s interviews with four Workforce Safety and Insurance executives and a state auditor, Blunt attorney Mike Hoffman said in a court filing. Hoffman said he had requested copies of all law enforcement interviews in the case.

Hoffman is asking South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick to grant Blunt a new trial or dismiss the charge against him. Blunt was convicted of a single felony in December 2008 for allegedly misspending more than $26,000 in public funds. North Dakota’s Supreme Court upheld Blunt’s conviction last month.

Cynthia Feland, an assistant Burleigh County state’s attorney who was the lead prosecutor in Blunt’s case, already has asked Romanick to determine whether she violated any disclosure rules.

Feland did not respond Thursday to telephone and e-mails seeking comment. She has said previously that the prosecution’s case file on Blunt was open to Hoffman’s inspection at any time. Feland is running for a judgeship this fall in the South Central district, which includes 12 counties and the cities of Bismarck, Mandan, Beulah and Washburn.

Romanick should conclude that Feland did violate the rules, Hoffman’s filing says.

“Mr. Blunt did not receive a fair trial,” Hoffman wrote. “Mr. Blunt ... contends the only just order under the circumstances is an order of dismissal.”

Blunt was accused of spending more than $11,000 on flowers, trinkets, balloons, decorations and beverages for Workforce Safety and Insurance employee meetings, and on gift certificates and cards for restaurants, stores and movie theaters that were used as worker incentives.

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