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Associated Press, Published December 24 2010

Bank sues for cash from Bismarck armored car heist

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A bank that lost $331,000 in an armored car heist in Bismarck earlier this year wants the money back.

U.S. National Bank Association has filed a lawsuit against North Dakota armored car company Alpha 6, Inc., and insurance carrier Lloyds of London. The bank is seeking restitution from the theft last Feb. 23 in which two cash bags were picked up from the bank's north branch in Bismarck, but never delivered to the main branch.

Authorities said the cash has not been recovered.

Matthew Fiechtner, Michael Link and Nathan Tuenge are charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and bank larceny. Fiechtner and Tuenge have both pleaded guilty. Link is scheduled for trial in March.

Fiechtner and Tuenge told a judge they spent the money, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Hagler said.

"Nothing substantial," Hagler said when asked what the defendants bought. "They, for a lack of a better term, wasted most of it."

Authorities said Link worked for Alpha 6 and provided keys for the truck. Tuenge took the money from the truck and Fiechtner was the getaway driver, prosecutors said. State court documents said the men timed Alpha 6's pick-up and drop-off routes and monitored camera views of Alpha 6 locations.

The case eventually was moved to federal court.

The U.S. Bank lawsuit accuses Alpha 6 of negligence for the way it hired, trained and supervised its employees. The armored car company breached its contract by failing to perform criminal background checks on its employees, the lawsuit said.

Court documents show that Link was on probation for felony theft.

Alpha 6 denies that it failed to conduct a background check on "the employee responsible for this theft" and said the company is not responsible for the incident.

"Defendant Alpha 6 has no liability for actions of its employees outside of the scope of employment, and the actions of the employees in this case were outside the scope of employment," the company said in its response to the lawsuit.

Alpha 6, based in Gladstone, advertises background checks as one of its services it provides to clients.

U.S. Bank also claims that Lloyds of London acted in bad faith by refusing to honor an insurance policy. Lloyds of London has until Jan. 31 to respond to the lawsuit.

Fiechtner and Tuenge each face maximum penalties of five years in prison. Scheduling is set for Feb. 24 for Fiechtner and March 21 for Tuenge.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.