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Emily Welker, Published February 21 2013

The final defendant with Bison ties pleads guilty

FARGO – The final former North Dakota State University football player to be sentenced for faking names on ballot initiative petitions last year avoided a two-day jail stint Thursday.

Don Carter, 21, was one of 13 current or former Bison players who pleaded guilty to one count of petition fraud, a Class A misdemeanor. The players, along with two others also charged, were accused of faking signatures on petitions seeking to put two measures up for a statewide vote in November.

The measures concerned the legalization of marijuana for medical use and the establishment of an outdoor heritage fund. Because of the faked petitions, both measures failed to make it on the ballot.

Cass County prosecutor Cherie Clark asked that Carter be sentenced to two days in jail, in addition to the deferred imposition of sentence, 360 days of unsupervised probation, 50 hours of community service, a $325 in fees that the other defendants received.

Clark said the state asked for jail time because Carter has a history of unrelated misdemeanors.

Cass County District Court Judge Wick Corwin disagreed, choosing instead to give Carter the same sentence as others in the case. He said he was new to the case and didn’t want to deviate from what Judge Doug Herman had done.

But Corwin added, “I’ll be real honest – it’s probably a good thing it’s the only one I have had.

“What happened affected many people, and there are some people who deeply feel that loss,” Corwin said. “You prevented the people of the state from making a decision that could have had huge implications,” acknowledging that Carter was only one “bit player in a big mess.”

Carter declined comment after the hearing.

His attorney, Bruce Quick, asked that Carter be given a May deadline to complete his community service, as Carter – once a linebacker for NDSU – is planning to transfer to a different university at the end of the semester.

Of the 15 people charged with misdemeanor petition fraud, only one defendant’s case is still pending. William Brown, who has pleaded not guilty, is set for a hearing Wednesday.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541

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