- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) - The attorney for the McKenzie County sheriff accused of misconduct says letters sent to Gov. Doug Burgum from the former special prosecutor in the case have violated his client’s due process rights.

Defense lawyer Mike Geiermann is asking that the case against Gary Schwartzenberger be dismissed. The sheriff is accused of making excessive charges on his office credit card during a trip to a conference in Las Vegas in 2015. Schwartzenberger later paid for the charges, but a criminal affidavit alleges the charges were made in violation of a county policy.

The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/2pJiaZd) reports Geiermann compared the letters sent from Bill O’Driscoll to an attorney contacting a judge in a civil or criminal case. The governor makes the ultimate decision in removing elected officials.

“(The proceedings) are tainted to the point I’m not so sure we can go forward,” Geiermann said in his request.

A letter on March 20, O’Driscoll said he was inclined to agree with the defendant’s motion to dismiss the case based upon similar circumstances used in previous removal proceedings of Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy in 2012.

“Should you disagree with this decision,” he told the governor. “And decide to seek a different opinion or appoint a different prosecutor, please advise.”

In an April 6 letter, O’Driscoll asks to be removed from the case because he felt Schwartzenberger’s “removal is not appropriate.”

The new prosecutor, Michael Mahoney, said the case is still intact and proceedings against the sheriff should continue.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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