Fargo man convicted of taking $43,000
A 54-year-old Fargo man was convicted of theft Thursday in Cass County District Court after taking $43,000 from two business partners. East Central District Court Judge Ralph Erickson sentenced Stephen Andrew Perreault to two years in jail, then ...
A 54-year-old Fargo man was convicted of theft Thursday in Cass County District Court after taking $43,000 from two business partners.
East Central District Court Judge Ralph Erickson sentenced Stephen Andrew Perreault to two years in jail, then suspended the sentence for two years.
Perreault was placed on supervised probation and must pay a $1,000 fine.
At the end of two years, the felony conviction will be erased from his record if he commits no more crimes.
Perreault was charged with felony theft for diverting money from a business account to personal use.
In February 2000, Perreault joined with Michael Howard, and Roger Nelson to form a business known as Great Marketing Ideas, LLC.
Nelson and Howard were the primary investors in the company while Perreault was responsible for the daily operation of Great Marketing, which made gingerbread house kits for Christmas fund-raisers.
Confusion arose, said defense attorney Dennis Fisher, in part because there was no written agreement as to how Perreault would be paid.
Perreault said he and his partners orally agreed he be paid $5,000 a month beginning in May 2000.
He took the $43,000 only after he worked for months without getting paid, Fisher said.
"It was the way he did it," he said. "That's what the judge found objectionable."
Perreault's partners deny such an arrangement existed.
Fisher was critical of Perreault's partners throughout the closing statements.
He tried to paint Perreault as a victim who was taken advantage of by his savvy partners.
"These two guys plucked him dry," he said.
Fisher also criticized the Fargo Police Department investigation, saying authorities didn't follow all available leads.
"(Police) picked a target and went after him," he said.
Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Mark Boening called Perreault's arguments "lame" and said it was a clear case of theft.
Before sentencing Perreault, Erickson said, "the way in which the company was operated astounds me."
He said formalities were "never clearly established" and "never clearly followed."
Erickson said Perreault, "exercised extremely poor judgment" and did commit a crime.
Boening had requested Perreault be sentenced to five years in jail, serving 120 days with the balance suspended for five years. He also requested $43,000 in restitution be paid.
The criminal trial began Tuesday.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Baird at (701) 241-5535