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Dale Wetzel, Associated Press, Published November 11 2010

Prison sentence for salesman upheld

BISMARCK – A North Dakota Supreme Court ruling on a probation violation appeal may make it more difficult for businesses to raise investment money for projects, an attorney said Wednesday.

The high court affirmed East Central District Judge Wickham Corwin’s decision to revoke the probation of Bruce Hager, who pleaded guilty in December 2007 to eight felonies for selling unregistered securities and for failing to meet a state registration requirement for salesmen.

Hager was initially sentenced to six months’ home confinement and placed on 10 years’ supervised probation. But after Hager finished his sentence, his probation officer said Hager violated his probation by keeping five guns and illegally marketing partnerships in an investment fund.

Hager admitted having the guns but denied any securities violations. Prosecutors dropped those allegations because, they said, the gun possession was enough to revoke his probation, but Corwin’s decision to impose a 30-month sentence was influenced by them, court documents say.

“If someone is on probation for a securities violation, or multiple securities violations, the last thing they should be doing is skating on the edge of the law,” Corwin said at Hager’s sentencing.

Daniel Frisk, one of Hager’s attorneys, said Wednesday that the ruling was appealed in an attempt to clarify the requirements that state regulators said Hager should have followed when he marketed the partnerships.

Hager contended that federal regulations exempted him from having to register with North Dakota’s securities commissioner to sell partnerships in the investment fund because he was a part owner of the company, RAHFCO Management Group LLC of Sioux Falls, S.D., and was not paid a commission for his work.

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