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Tuesday, October 27, 2009


State's Attorney
Richard Riha
Assistant State's Attorney
Cynthia Feland
Assistant State's Attorney
Lloyd Suhr

While writing the centerpiece article for the October 2009 Dakota Beacon magazine I realized how central the issue of David Spencer’s separation from Workforce Safety and Insurance was to the prosecution of Sandy Blunt. Most of all I realized that the Burleigh County State’s Attorney’s Office, under the direction of State’s Attorney Richard Riha had withheld an extremely important document from Sandy Blunt and his attorney. The WITHHELD document was written by North Dakota State Auditor’s Office (NDSAO) auditor Jason Wahl, dated November 8, 2007 (13 months before the Blunt trial), sent to Assistant State’s Attorney Cynthia Feland which states that he (Wahl) was considering including recommendations to the 2008 Performance Audit of WSI regarding Dave Spencer’s sick leave and moving expenses. In the second to the last paragraph Wahl states that he “was considering a recommendation regarding Mr. Spencer's use of sick leave.” The sick leave issue apparently was not considered significant enough to even be included as a recommendation in the Audit, although NDSAO would have been required by statute to include had the finding been even remotely considered wrong, much less illegal. In the last paragraph, Wahl very specifically states that he with the N.D. Attorney General’s Office determined that “there was not a voluntary resignation so it was determined to drop the recommendation we had drafted”. This very important memo was withheld from the defense. Prosecutors MUST provide discovered exculpatory information to an accused individual and/or must provide “ALL statements made by listed prosecution witnesses (Wahl was THE primary witness for the prosecution).” This very important memo will henceforth be designated as the “ Wahl/Feland Memo”. The Burleigh County State’s Attorney filed the Plaintiff-Appellee brief for Supreme Court No. 20090110 prior to the October 21, 2009, argument before the High Court. The brief was prepared by Assistant State’s Attorneys Cynthia Feland and Lloyd Suhr and Legal Interns Gabrielle Goter and Christopher S. Pieske. In regard to Dave Spencer’s voluntary or involuntary separation from Workforce Safety and Insurance (WSI), the brief asserts:

“Blunt argues there was testimony questioning whether Spencer’s resignation was voluntary and that the failure to recoup the losses was on the advice of WSI’s legal counsel. Several of the State’s witnesses contradicted Blunt’s position. Trans. Of Trial, pp. 326- 343, 346-47, 538-42, and 547- 49. Thus, the State produced sufficient evidence to create an issue of fact upon which the jury could and did deliberate.”

The trial transcript cited in the brief testimony provided by Billi Peltz and James Long during the trial of Blunt. The testimony from the TWO witnesses can be summarized as follows: PELTZ: Trans. of Trial, pp. 326 - 343 (Billi Peltz – Cross by Feland) – Rather than contradicting Blunt, Peltz’s testimony actually substantiates Spencer’s involuntary separation while noting absolutely no discussion regarding advise of WSI Legal Counsel! Pg. 326 – Peltz says Sandy Blunt knew that Spencer must go: “he agreed that it was in the best interests of the agency to separate employment with Dave.” Pg. 327 – Peltz corroborates that Spencer would be INVOLUNTARILY SEPARATED, and understands that when she left work that the next day Dave Spencer “would no longer be employed there (WSI).” Pg. 329 – Peltz’s testimony makes it clear that she knew that Blunt would force Spencer to resign and discusses the procedure for separating an employee by having a “witness” when telling someone that they would no longer be employed because “you never know how the person is going to respond.” Pages 329-343 – Deals almost exclusively with Spencer’s sick leave. There is NO CONTRADICTION of Blunt’s position or even any related discussion in this interval. Pg. 343 – Peltz identifies Spencer’s letter of resignation. No discussion as to the circumstances under which the resignation is obtained either voluntarily or involuntarily is this cited page. Pages 346-47 – Peltz does not mention (and is never asked) anything on either of these pages about the voluntary or involuntary separation of Spencer from WSI. There is also no mention whatsoever of advice from WSI counsel regarding Spencer. Contrary to the State’s Attorneys’ contentions, in no manner does Peltz’s testimony contradict Blunt’s position. Further yet, Peltz is never asked about and never discusses Spencer’s moving expenses. In reality, Peltz’s testimony was the most direct refutation that Spencer’s separation was voluntary. There is no mention of WSI counsel in any manner on any of the trial transcript cited by Feland and Suhr in their brief. LONG: 538-42 (James Long – Direct by Suhr) Page 538 – Long testifies that Blunt “talked to Mr. Spencer and told him that he would – could no longer work there (WSI) …” Contrary to Feland and Suhr’s assertion, Long clearly explains that Spencer’s separation was involuntary. The rest of the trial transcript interval cited by Feland and Suhr (pages 538-542) is almost exclusively regarding Mr. Spencer’s sick leave. On page 542 there is a two sentence discussion regarding if Spencer was fired or did he resign. And while Spencer “technically” resigned, it is more than clear that it was not voluntarily done by Spencer. In this citation, there is neither any discussion regarding voluntary or involuntary separation nor any reference to advice from WSI counsel regarding obtaining reimbursement of moving expenses. None! 547- 49 (James Long – Direct by Suhr). There is no discussion within these cited pages regarding the conditions of Spencer’s separation either voluntary or involuntary or any reference whatsoever to advice from WSI counsel concerning WSI seeking reimbursement of Spencer’s moving expenses. NOTHING --ABSOLUTELY NOTHING-- IN TESTIMONY “QUESTIONS WHETHER SPENCER’S RESIGNATION WAS VOLUNTARY AND THAT THE FAILURE TO RECOUP THE LOSSES WAS ON THE ADVICE OF WSI’S LEGAL COUNSEL.” THIS SMALL, SINGLE SECTION OF RIHA, FELAND AND SUHR’S BRIEF IS YET ONE MORE EXAMPLE OF THE PROVABLE LAYER UPON LAYER OF DECEPTION USED TO PERSECUTE SANDY BLUNT. IS IT ILLEGAL TO ATTEMPT TO DEFRAUD THE STATE’S SUPREME COURT? And most important of all: IT IS ALL A MOOT POINT BECAUSE FELAND & SUHR “KNOW” THAT SPENCER’S SEPARATION WAS INVOLUNTARY. FELAND AND SUHR “KNOW” THIS BECAUSE ND STATE AUDITOR WAHL SENT A MEMO ON NOVEMBER 8, 2007, DOCUMENTING THIS FACT! BLUNT AND HIS ATTORNEY WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PROVE THIS FACT TO THE SUPREME COURT AT THE HEARING HAD FELAND AND SUHR NOT INTENTIONALLY WITHHELD THIS MEMO FROM BLUNT AND HIS ATTORNEY. DEFENSE ATTORNEY HOFFMAN WAS PRECLUDED FROM PRESENTING WAHL’S EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE BECAUSE IT WAS NOT IN THE ORIGINAL BLUNT TRIAL RECORD. I BELIEVE THAT FELAND, SUHR AND RIHA KNEW THIS. THEIR KNOWING THIS IS THE ONLY EXPLANATION FOR THEM MAKING THE CLAIMS THAT THEY MAKE IN THE BRIEF AND LATTER TO THE SUPREME COURT OF NORTH DAKOTA! THIS IS JUST ONE MORE EXAMPLE THAT THIS ENTIRE EPISODE IS AND HAS BEEN A CHARADE! A CHARADE CONSISTING OF NOT EVEN A TISSUE OF TRUTH!

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The Burleigh County States Attorney Office is corrupt.  I have had similar dealings with the office of the BCSA and have ended up losing not because of the facts in the case but because of an unethical and unprofessional former ASA named Julie Lawyer.  The withholding of evidence is the norm rather than the exception in this office.  There is not an ounce of integrity of any one in this office.  If anyone has information of past unethical behavior or behind closed door antics then now is the time to speak up.  Corruption happens all over the USA and it is happening in our backyard too.  Thank you Mr Cates for bring this to everyones attention.

Madknuk on October 29, 2009 at 02:20 pm
Avatar for Joann

Corruption in the Burleigh County State’s Attorney Office?  I have no knowledge of any specific acts however I can comment on corruption in Bismarck generally with the observation that it is rampant.  Bismarck functions in this fashion—it is “whom you know and where you are from” that counts—not what you have created of yourself, nor your performance nor your integrity.  Even at places of healthcare where one expects the highest ethical standards they are lacking; one needs to look only as far as the Bismarck Cancer Center where the Board of Trustees and Executive Director, Mr. Kenneth Dykes and his “Management Team” have fine-tuned hypocrisy.  I add that it is indeed a pleasure not to live in Bismarck any longer.

Joann on October 30, 2009 at 03:43 pm

READ THE STORY !!  I have read over Mr Cates story in the Dakota Beacon magazine 3 times now and amazed at how indepth this unethical behavior was/is and how far some people will go to destroy a man life and family.  I have not heard about this information being reported on the local news channels or papers.  Why not.  I think this says a lot about our local media.  I am also disappointed in the number of people that have commented on this story.  Are people that afraid to get involved.  You can’t go through life sitting on the fence or with you fingers in your ears and your blinders on.  When you can’t trust people in the Justice system then who can you trust.  In the Government today.NO ONE.  The BCSAO is corrupt and changes are needed and the people that have malicously persecuted Sandy Blunt need to be fired and then held accountable.  We need to let them know they are not above the law!  Mr Cates spent a lot of time writing about this corruption and everyone needs to take the time to read this story.  If you don’t and you continue to let these people do what they like then SHAME ON YOU.

Madknuk on November 3, 2009 at 11:30 am

f you don’t have a responsible and ethical media that will act like a watchdog by holding people in public trust to the highest of standards then they shouldn’t be in the reporting business. I don’t think that this is about consumuption of time, it is really about the failed media organizations we have here in North Dakota.  If I hear about this story being told other than the Dakota Beacon I will take notice and write an apology.  I don’t think this will happen.  This case

Dress on April 22, 2010 at 08:30 am
Avatar for Matt

That was some crazy reading. There is always people trying to work around or through the system (or any system for that matter). Where did people’s ethics/morals go? It seems like the older I get the more people are doing things like this. Does today’s society have any affect on things like this?

Matt on January 19, 2011 at 08:22 pm
Avatar for Ryan

I think you are on to something here Matt. Today’s society seems to put so much emphasis on all the wrong things. When things like this start to reach our court system I think it’s time to do something about it. Corruption is everywhere these days, and sadly it’s also in our legal system.

Ryan on June 21, 2011 at 03:34 pm
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