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Published May 02 2012

Cass County Sheriff’s Office reimbursed for cornfield manhunt

FARGO – The Cass County Sheriff’s Office and several other agencies have been reimbursed for costs incurred during a 22-hour manhunt that resulted in the capture of escaped prisoner Joseph Megna in a Barnes County cornfield last fall.

Extradition Transport of America LLC, the private company whose van was transporting Megna from Florida to Washington when he escaped at an Interstate 94 rest stop near Tower City on Oct. 4, reimbursed Cass County in full in the amount of $7,981.28, said Sgt. Tara Morris, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office.

Law enforcement officials from a dozen agencies took part in the manhunt, incurring more than $91,000 in expenses, according to a breakdown of costs from the Barnes County Sheriff’s Office.

Barnes County Chief Deputy Don Fiebiger said a lot of the agencies have been reimbursed. He said the Barnes County Sheriff's Office was offered a settlement but is holding out until the farmers who harvested corn to help flush Megna from the field get paid. The farmers submitted expenses of about $35,230, while the sheriff's office claimed $4,756.

Megna pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to a felony escape charge in Barnes County District Court. He was sentenced to the three months in jail he’d already served and was extradited to Franklin County, Wash., where he faced up to life in prison if convicted of a first-degree charge of child molestation.

Megna said he fled the van because he wasn't being fed properly and was "treated basically like an animal."