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Stephen J. Lee, Forum News Service, Published January 31 2013

Ex-Grand Forks cop pleads not guilty to terrorizing

A former Grand Forks police officer accused of holding a gun to another man’s head at a party pleaded not guilty Wednesday in state district court.

Jace Prelip, 27, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison if convicted because a weapon was used. The felony charge of terrorizing carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Prelip resigned from the police force a few days after the Aug. 29 incident; he had been on the force nearly three years, according to Chief John Packett.

According to the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Prelip invited several people — including fellow law enforcement officers — to his Grand Forks apartment after they had been at a local bar.

Once inside, Prelip held a handgun against the head of a UND aviation student, who is about 20, according to BCI's court affidavit. He then lowered the gun and showed that it didn’t have a magazine in it.

The charge says Prelip made the alleged victim fear for his safety or his life.

Possible prosecution witnesses listed include city and UND police officers, and a Grand Forks County Sheriff’s deputy.

Paul Emerson, an assistant state attorney general, is prosecuting Prelip because of a conflict of interest for Grand Forks prosecutors. The police serve as investigators for local prosecutors.

Prelip’s attorney, Jennifer Braun, told state District Judge Sonja Clapp he waived his right to a preliminary hearing in which the state would have to show probable cause.

Clapp set his pre-trial conference for April 11.