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Maurer gains parole

BISMARCK -- Imprisoned Fargo arsonist John Maurer will be released March 1, the North Dakota Parole Board decided Monday. Maurer, 34, is serving a five-year sentence for torching his Tropics nightclub on Broadway on April 30, 2000. Without parole...

BISMARCK -- Imprisoned Fargo arsonist John Maurer will be released March 1, the North Dakota Parole Board decided Monday.

Maurer, 34, is serving a five-year sentence for torching his Tropics nightclub on Broadway on April 30, 2000.

Without parole, he would have served until June 24. He is in the Corrections Department's Bismarck Transitional Center, a work-release facility for inmates nearing the end of their sentences.

The board said Maurer could move to Kentucky and live with his grandmother if Kentucky agrees to supervise him. Kentucky has not responded, said Parole Board staff member Ernie Reinert.

Even if Maurer is not accepted by Kentucky, he will be released March 1 and Transition Center staff and a parole officer will set up a parole plan that likely involves him staying in Bismarck. After his parole expires, he will be on probation for five years.

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Also Monday, the board rejected parole for David G. Matson of Gary, Minn., who is serving a sentence for crimes related to his stalking a woman in Fargo since 1989. He asked to return to his farm at Gary. He will serve until his sentence expires Sept. 11.

Matson chuckled nervously and seemed to question the seriousness of the crimes during his interview with the board by teleconference. He is at the James River Correctional Center in Jamestown.

Matson told Board Chairman John M. Olson of Bismarck, "I guess I called up this (victim), that's all I know."

Asked Olson, "For what purpose?"

Matson said, "I was wondering why she was sending the cops after me." He also said, "I suppose I was supposed to stay away from her. She had an ad in the paper. I sent her a greeting card in the mail."

Matson also said, "I guess I don't think I did any stalking. All I know is she wanted to send the cops after me every chance she had."

Board members study information on the inmates and already know details of their crimes, but ask them to explain the crimes so they can judge the extent of their remorse and rehabilitation.

Reinert said Matson's victim and her friends and relatives had written to the board to oppose his release.

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In court documents, the victim said Matson constantly tracked her down and harassed her despite several moves.

Court documents show he admitted to police he sent cards and called her in hopes of a romantic relationship. He was arrested several times.

Once, in 2001, he was released from jail after a judge determined he lacked criminal responsibility due to mental disorders.

After that decision, the victim called her ongoing experiences with Matson "like being in a nightmare you can't get out of."

The board continues meeting today.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Janell Cole at (701) 224-0830

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