MOORHEAD-The City Council on Monday told the owner of a Fargo used goods store that Moorhead does not want his business.
Council members voted 5-3 to deny giving a secondhand dealer's license to Shannon Grindberg, the owner of Phat Kat Antiques and Vintage Vinyl, 1501 1st Ave. S. in Fargo. Grindberg wanted to open the business at 1030 Main Ave. in Moorhead.
A criminal background check turned up a March 2014 misdemeanor theft conviction, which dominated the council discussion. The city of Fargo in 2014 declined to renew Grindberg's secondhand business license because of the theft issue, the city auditor there said.
Grindberg vigorously defended his record against harsh questioning from some council members, saying he is an honest man who was caught up in a difficult situation.
"I can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I did nothing wrong," Grindberg said.
He cried during the appeal hearing, which he requested after city staff denied his license application April 30. The council has final say in the event of an appeal.
Secondhand goods stores are often a place for criminals to dump stolen items, City Attorney John Shockley said. In early 2014, Grindberg bought items for $200 that turned out to have been looted from a storage unit, according to a Fargo police report.
A Fargo police detective went to Phat Kat and asked Grindberg about the items; Grindberg denied having them. The rightful owner of the items then went to Grindberg and purchased the items for $220, police said.
Grindberg told the council he did not know the items he bought were stolen, and that he lied to a police detective because she never properly identified herself. He also called the sale of the items to the rightful owner a "reimbursement" that was freely and mutually agreed upon.
The explanation did not satisfy all council members. Councilman Jim Haney pursued the most aggressive line of questioning, to which Grindberg replied: "I think I need to bring a lawyer."
To bolster his case to the council, Grindberg provided letters of recommendation and brought in his parents and a friend to testify in his favor.
"All I would ask is give him a chance," Grindberg's father pleaded.
A minority of council members-Steve Gehrtz, Heidi Durand and Nancy Otto-said they were willing to give him a chance and voted that way. The other council members-Chuck Hendrickson, Brenda Elmer, Mike Hulett, Mari Dailey and Haney-voted to deny giving the license.