Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

WSI officials appear in court on felony charges

BISMARCK - Two state Workforce Safety and Insurance officials made their first court appearances Wednesday on felony charges stemming from findings in a state performance audit last year.

Workforce Safety and Insurance

BISMARCK - Two state Workforce Safety and Insurance officials made their first court appearances Wednesday on felony charges stemming from findings in a state performance audit last year.

Charles "Sandy" Blunt, the agency's executive director, is charged with two counts of misapplication of entrusted property. He and WSI security unit director Romi Leingang are charged with conspiracy to disclose confidential information.

South Central District Judge Robert Wefald released them on their promises to appear at future court dates.

It could take six weeks or longer for preliminary hearings to be scheduled.

Leingang's attorney, Tim Purdon, asked Wefald to schedule a daylong preliminary hearing. He plans to call several witnesses to contest the charge against her.

ADVERTISEMENT

Purdon also objected to allowing cameras and news recording equipment in the courtroom, but was overruled by Wefald.

"The truth of the matter is, people are going to hear about this anyway," Wefald told him.

Blunt and his attorney, Michael Hoffman, left the courthouse without answering questions.

Blunt and Leingang were charged in April.

In one count, Blunt is charged with using agency funds for expenses not permitted by state law, including for employee gifts, and parties and travel for legislators. The second count claims he improperly used WSI funds to grant employee bonuses not allowed by law.

Blunt and Leingang are charged with misusing driver's license photos from the state Transportation Department. They allegedly obtained and used the license images of WSI employees or former employees whom Blunt suspected of distributing e-mails listing WSI officials' salaries. By showing the photos to public library workers, Blunt and Leingang were attempting to narrow down who had used public computers to send the e-mails. The salary information in the e-mails is a matter of public record, but Blunt alleges the mass e-mailings amounted to illegal "spam."

The charges against Blunt together carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The charge against Leingang carries a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Feland said she isn't sure why the WSI board of directors and others opposed to the charges against Blunt and Leingang have alleged the criminal charges are "political."

ADVERTISEMENT

She said prosecutors brought the charges based on the evidence law enforcement brought to them.

Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net

What To Read Next
The Buffalo Bills safety who suffered a cardiac arrest on Monday Night Football in January is urging people to learn how to save lives the way his was saved.
Josh Sipes was watching an in-flight movie when he became aware the flight crew were asking for help assisting a woman who was experiencing a medical problem.
A Sanford doctor says moderate cold exposure could be the boost people need for their day.
Nonprofit hospitals are required to provide free or discounted care, also known as charity care; yet eligibility and application requirements vary across hospitals. Could you qualify? We found out.