- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - A North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent who was cleared of criminal charges for confiscating and failing to return a stolen pay loader has been reinstated to investigative work, the state attorney general said Friday.

Agent Arnie Rummel had been on administrative duties while he was facing two misdemeanor charges in Southeast District Court for misapplication of entrusted property and refusing to perform his duty as a public servant. Dickey County State’s Attorney Gary Neuharth agreed earlier this week to drop the charges.

“Agent Rummel is a seasoned and valued BCI agent who has worked in law enforcement in North Dakota for more than 34 years,” Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Now that this matter has been resolved, he will return to full duty.”

The case involving Rummel began in May 2014 after he took the loader from Darrell Schrum’s garage in Forbes and gave it to a trucking company. Schrum said he didn’t know the loader was stolen and a judge found Rummel in contempt of court for failing to return it. The loader has not been located.

Rummel’s attorney, Tom Dickson, said his client was unfairly caught in a squabble between Schrum’s lawyers and the state attorney general’s office.

“The relentless persecution of him was unfair, unjust and inappropriate,” Dickson said. “The decision to dismiss the criminal case was the final concession to that fact.”

The decision to drop criminal charges doesn’t clear Rummel of “ignoring the law and multiple court orders,” said Schrum’s attorney, Mark Friese.

“As a result of his sustained contempt finding, he is no longer able to testify credibly as a witness,” Friese said. “His reputation is ruined. “

Neuharth did not respond to requests for comment.

Schrum’s lawyers originally filed a civil complaint stating there was no way Schrum should have known the loader was stolen and he was therefore the rightful owner. Southeast District Judge Daniel Narum ordered Rummel to return the loader to Schrum. When the agent didn’t meet the judge’s deadline, Rummel was declared in contempt and eventually ordered, along with the state attorney general’s office, to pay Schrum nearly $54,000.

The state Supreme Court threw out the judge’s order because it did not comply with requirements for claims against the state, including filing a written notice with the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Shortly after that ruling, a Fargo judge who was assigned the contempt case ordered Rummel to pay a $500 fine.

“Arnie is a good, decent, and hard-working cop,” Dickson said. “He is one the best detectives in North Dakota.”



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