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Emily Welker, Published May 21 2013

Three ex-Bison allegedly skip community service

FARGO – Three of the 15 people who pleaded guilty to petition fraud charges in Cass County last fall – all three of them former North Dakota State University football players – failed to complete the community service required by their probation agreements, authorities allege in court records.

A fourth ex-player among the group of defendants – which at the time the charges were filed in September included 10 current Bison football players and three former players – was accused of checking in for his required community service jobs and then ditching out, once when he was supposed to be filling sandbags in Fargo.

Records show the cases have been reopened for the three men accused of not completing any of their community service time: Darren (D.J.) McNorton, Aireal Boyd and Don Carter.

Affidavits from Restore, a nonprofit that administers court-ordered community service sentences, allege none of the three did their community service.

McNorton and Boyd were ordered to appear in Cass County District Court on Monday on an order to show cause, a step that can lead to an eventual probation revocation. Boyd was granted a two-month delay.

McNorton did not appear in court, prompting Judge John Irby to issue a warrant for his arrest.

Carter’s order to show cause hearing is set for May 28.

The fourth ex-player, Joshua Gatlin, didn’t initially meet the April 15 deadline for his community service but has since completed it, according to court records.

Boyd was a member of the NDSU football team when the charges were filed in the fall but is no longer on the roster. The other three were former players at the time.

The four were among 15 defendants who all pleaded guilty to faking names on petitions to place two proposed statewide initiatives on North Dakota ballots in November’s election. The proposed measures, which were thrown out because of the fake signatures, sought to legalize medical marijuana and establish an outdoor heritage fund.

All 15 pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor election offense and were sentenced to a deferred imposition of sentence, 360 days of unsupervised probation, 50 hours of community service and a fine of $325 or $350.

In a deferred imposition, the charge is removed from a defendant’s public record if probation is completed successfully and there are no new criminal offenses.

Tracy Peters, the assistant Cass County state’s attorney who handled the cases, couldn’t be reached from comment Tuesday.

A phone number couldn’t be found for any of the four men. Court records showed Carter is the only one of the four with an attorney of record, and his attorney was unavailable Tuesday.

Gatlin had been accused of failing to complete 36 hours and 45 minutes of his 50 hours of community service, but he had completed the requirement by May 19, the day before he was set for a hearing with the other three on why he should not be found in contempt of court or have his probation revoked.

According to court records filed in the case April 22, Gatlin’s case manager at Restore reported Gatlin was placed at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Store as part of his community service.

The case manager, Red Truedson, reported that staff at the Thrift Store saw Gatlin punch in, take his timesheet and leave, then come back and punch out several hours later without completing any work at the thrift store. According to the Restore affidavit, Gatlin repeated this several times at the thrift store.

In the affidavit, Truedson also accused Gatlin of a “similar incident” when he checked in with staff when he was supposed to be sandbagging for the city of Fargo but didn’t check out.

Court documents filed Monday show that Truedson asked that Gatlin’s order to show cause hearing be dismissed because he’d completed his hours the day before.

A spokeswoman for Restore said the organization could not discuss the four cases.

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