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Published October 08 2012

Fargo man gets 5 years for role in wide-ranging theft ring

FARGO – One of two Fargo men accused in a theft ring that targeted home construction sites was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to more than 20 counts of conspiracy to commit burglary.

Jason Scott Leines, 35, also must serve five years of supervised probation and pay restitution to be determined within 60 days.

Judge John Irby called the sentence “more than fair,” considering that Leines could have received consecutive five-year sentences for each of the 21 felony charges to which he pleaded guilty.

Leines entered Alford pleas to one conspiracy charge and a theft of property charge, meaning he didn’t admit guilt but acknowledged a jury likely would have convicted him based on the evidence.

Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Cherie Clark said Leines and his alleged co-conspirator stole equipment valued at more than $10,000, mostly from home construction sites.

“This hits at the essence of the American dream of home ownership,” she said.

Items were reported stolen in Fargo, West Fargo, Argusville and Kindred. Fargo police have said that hundreds of items believed to be connected to more than a dozen burglaries were recovered from the two defendants’ homes, including jewelry, electronics and tools from construction sites.

Defense attorney Laura Reynolds said Leines has cooperated with police since his arrest June 21.

“He’s been taking responsibility pretty much from day one,” she said.

Leines received credit for 111 days served in jail.

His alleged co-conspirator, Jeremy Tibiatowski, has pleaded not guilty to similar charges. A bench warrant for his arrest was issued Monday. Both men also were charged with two counts of first-degree burglary in Clay County.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528