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Betsy Simon, Forum News Service, Published June 25 2013

Former Dickinson insurance agent Biggs gets 10 years for theft

DICKINSON, N.D. - A former Dickinson insurance agent will serve 10 years with the North Dakota Department of Corrections after he was sentenced Monday during a hearing at Southwest District Court in Dickinson for taking thousands of dollars from a client.

The defendant, Scott Biggs, is required to report by 9 a.m. Friday to the Stark County Sheriff’s Office, so he can be transported to the North Dakota Department of Corrections to begin serving his sentence.

Biggs will also be required to pay $46,552.40 in restitution to his victims, John and Jennifer Dufner.

Biggs’ attorney, Irvin Nodland, said his client already had $10,000 to put toward restitution.

Biggs has the right to appeal his sentence.

In April, an 11-woman, one-man jury found Biggs, who was born in 1957, guilty of five felony counts of theft of property — four Class B felonies and one Class C felony — after he placed the assets of his client, John Dufner, into various trust accounts without Dufner’s knowledge, and then withdrew $30,000 from one of the accounts on Sept. 11, 2009, according to a cease-and-desist order signed by State Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm on June 27, 2012.

When John Dufner attempted to withdraw money from an account, Biggs was accused of advising him that the IRS had frozen the accounts. When John Dufner requested proof, Biggs reportedly refused to provide any documentation.

Biggs also was accused of issuing two cashier’s checks from a savings account that had been set up for John Dufner. The first check in the amount of $23,552 was paid to a Chase credit card in Biggs’ name, which Biggs testified was to reimburse him for expenses he accrued working for the Dufner’s Melaleuca business between 2003 and 2007.

Biggs was also accused of using a second check written for $5,805 to purchase three gold coins, which were required to be returned to the Dufners following Monday’s hearing.

Before handing down his sentence, Judge Zane Anderson said he had questions about John Dufner’s motives for hiding his money.

“But in no way does it justify the defendant’s conduct,” Anderson said. “The court has serious questions about the defendant’s character and that only after his conviction did he acknowledge his wrongdoing.”

Assistant Attorney General Jon Byers said Biggs had the opportunity to avoid prison time when the state offered a six-month prison sentence in exchange for a guilty plea before Biggs’ pretrial hearing earlier this year.

“I am not asking the court to penalize Mr. Biggs for exercising his constitutional rights, but he took a risk by going to trial and not accepting responsibility and pleading guilty,” Byers said. “It’s unfortunate that at this stage in his life he has to face this because of the choices he made to take this to trial and roll the dice on an acquittal. He earned treatment by the criminal justice system.”

Nodland recommended at the sentencing hearing that the court consider a deferred imposition of sentence.