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Animal cruelty convict Kiefer ordered to wear ankle bracelet; new charge filed in McHenry County related to trail ride

MANDAN, N.D. - A judge here increased bond to $3,000 cash and ordered electronic monitoring Thursday for a Fargo man who was convicted of animal cruelty and now stands accused of violating his probation by possessing horses and a mule.

William Kiefer

MANDAN, N.D. – A judge here increased bond to $3,000 cash and ordered electronic monitoring Thursday for a Fargo man who was convicted of animal cruelty and now stands accused of violating his probation by possessing horses and a mule.

William Kiefer also faces a new charge in McHenry County for allegedly taking the mule on a trail ride Sunday near Towner in north-central North Dakota. McHenry County State’s Attorney Cassey Breyer charged Kiefer on Wednesday with disobedience of a judicial order, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $3,000 fine.

Kiefer, 64, appeared in handcuffs Thursday in Morton County District Court in Mandan, three days after authorities conducting a probation search discovered a horse and a mule in the backyard of his north Fargo residence.

That search led to Kiefer’s second arrest in three weeks for an alleged probation violation. Morton County Assistant State’s Attorney Gabrielle Goter filed the original petition Aug. 6 seeking to revoke Kiefer’s probation, alleging that he bought a horse for $2,000 on July 29 from a woman in Wyoming and didn’t follow through with court-ordered mental health services.

In Morton County District Court on Thursday, Goter said her phone and the phones of sheriffs in multiple counties have “blown up” with reports of Kiefer’s activities.


“At this point, he’s moving about the state, he’s moving onto people’s property at night … to move these horses around,” she said. “He’s just in willful violation of the bond conditions and his probation conditions.”

“People are upset with Mr. Kiefer, so they are making these calls,” Judge Bruce Romanick said later.

Kiefer is forbidden to own or possess livestock as a condition of his probation. He pleaded guilty in December to five counts of cruelty to animals and four counts of overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals – all Class A misdemeanors – after authorities seized 157 horses from him and found 99 horses dead on his properties in Morton and Burleigh counties in January 2013. Three of the seized horses later died.

Morton County Sheriff Dave Shipman said Thursday that the mule found in Kiefer’s backyard in Fargo was one that authorities had seized from him and sold last year at auction to Kiefer’s nephew in Sargent County. Shipman said Kiefer reportedly took the mule from his nephew’s property without his permission.

A woman took a picture of Kiefer riding the mule Sunday on a trail ride near Towner. The woman said Kiefer was behaving oddly, initially refusing to sign a liability waiver required for the ride and then using an alias when he finally did sign it, Shipman said.

After the woman took Kiefer’s photograph, he dismounted the mule and let it go. The mule followed the rest of the horses back to camp, where Kiefer loaded up the mule and horse and drove them back to Fargo, Shipman said.

If Kiefer is found to have violated his probation, he could be ordered to serve the six months of jail time that was suspended when he was sentenced Dec. 31 to a year in jail. He served the other six months on electronic home monitoring in Fargo, finishing that part of his sentence July 7, and he’s now serving two years of supervised probation that began Jan. 7.

After his arrest Aug. 7 on the first alleged probation violation, judges in Morton and Burleigh counties set his bond at 10 percent of $7,000. Kiefer posted the $700 Aug. 11.


Goter asked Romanick on Thursday to set bond at $7,000 cash for the new alleged probation violation. Kiefer’s attorney, Scott Hager of Bismarck, asked the judge to leave bond at $700, calling the four days in jail Kiefer will have spent by the time he appears in Burleigh County District Court Friday “a significant consequence for the allegation.”

Romanick set bond at $3,000 cash – noting that’s the maximum fine for a Class A misdemeanor – and told Kiefer he’ll be put on electronic monitoring “so we can tell where you’re at.” Goter said Kiefer will have to wear an ankle bracelet.

Goter, who described the case as being “out of the ordinary” from the beginning, said she expects that Kiefer – whose work history includes more than 25 years as an investment executive and financial adviser – will post the $3,000 cash bond.

“I’m just hoping that with that money on the line, in addition to the electronic monitoring, it will hold his behavior in check,” she said.

Authorities believe Kiefer purchased the horse found in his Fargo backyard at a sale barn in Verndale, Minn., about 97 miles southeast of Fargo, Shipman said.

Since Kiefer’s arrest Monday, his son has taken the horse and mule to a stockyard in the Fargo area and is making arrangements for someone else to take them, Shipman said.

Both the horse that Kiefer allegedly purchased in Wyoming and another mare he allegedly had in his possession remain at a boarding-type facility in Montana where he dropped them off, Shipman said. Kiefer’s son is working out arrangements to retrieve those horses, as well, he said.

Shipman said he has “no idea” where Kiefer got the other horse.


Kiefer’s probation revocation hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19 in Burleigh County. His initial appearance in McHenry County is set for Sept. 22.


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