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Keith Norman and Charly Haley, Forum News Service, Published November 11 2013

Foster County auditor, county board chairman charged with felonies after shortages found in FEMA account

CARRINGTON N.D. - The Foster County auditor and chairman of the Foster County commission are facing multiple felony charges related to the county’s property, records and finances.

An audit of Foster County Emergency Management’s Federal Emergency Management Agency account has revealed shortages of at least $13,000. The information was included in the criminal complaint charging Roger Schlotman, Foster County auditor, with misapplication of entrusted property.

Schlotman and James Carr, Foster County Board of Commissioners chairman, both face felony charges for multiple crimes, according to court documents.

Schlotman’s alleged crimes occurred between June 2011 and September 2013, and Carr’s were between September 2011 and September 2013.

Schlotman is accused of three counts of misapplication of entrusted property, two counts of conspiracy to commit misapplication of entrusted property and two counts of tampering with public records. The charges are Class C felonies.

The criminal complaint says Schlotman wrote a $944 check to himself and cashed it, used or transferred the property within the FEMA account in a manner not authorized by the county, refused to sell real property at a Nov. 20 tax sale and drafted a contract for deed without authorization, and didn’t list corrections in the official meeting minutes of the Foster County Board of Commissioners.

Carr faces two counts of conspiracy to commit misapplication of entrusted property, Class B and Class C felonies, and two counts of tampering with public records, Class A misdemeanors. He’s accused of conspiring with Schlotman to transfer the property within the FEMA account in a manner not authorized by the county and conspiring with Schlotman regarding the tax sale. He’s also accused of tampering with Foster County commission minutes.

The case is still an open investigation, said Kathleen Murray, assistant Foster County state’s attorney. She does not know if there will be further charges, but it is possible, she said.

A number of people had questioned actions in Foster County Commission meetings, which prompted the Foster County state’s attorney to contact the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Murray said.

“The initial investigation BCI did on these specific allegations were at least a year ago … as early back as at least July or August 2012,” she said.

On Nov. 6, BCI executed search warrants at the Foster County Auditor’s Office and conducted interviews at the Foster County Courthouse in Carrington.

Also on Nov. 6, Schlotman handed a hand-written resignation to Murray, she said.

She did not know if the county commission had made a decision on whether to approve the resignation. The commission’s last meeting was Nov. 5.

“As far as what his letter said, (the resignation) was effective immediately,” Murray said.

Murray works full time as the Wells County state’s attorney and usually only assists Foster County with conflicting cases, like this one, she said.

Similarly, the Foster County state’s attorney contacted BCI to investigate, instead of the Foster County sheriff, because the investigation involved county employees, Murray said.

Schlotman and Carr are both free on a personal recognizance bond after appearing before Judge Thomas Merrick for a bail hearing Nov. 6.

They are scheduled for initial appearances on the charges Dec. 4 at the Foster County Courthouse.

A Class B felony is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A Class C felony charge is punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by one year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

Schlotman was elected as Foster County auditor in 1982, according to the county’s website.