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Fargo Burger King

Fargo, North Dakota

November 17, 2005 In-Forum News
The suspected mastermind behind strip searches of employees at chain restaurants and stores nationwide - including one at a north Fargo Burger King - faces felony charges in Kentucky for a hoax there. Authorities arrested David Richard Stewart of Panama City, Fla., after tracking a call from a Wal-Mart to Kentucky, where an18-year-old McDonald's employee was sexually abused last year when an assistant manager followed directions from a caller. Court papers state Stewart, 38, posed as "Officer Scott" when calling the McDonald's in Mount Washington. He convinced the assistant manager to strip-search the woman, who Scott said was suspected of stealing. The call resembles one made to the Fargo Burger King on 19th Avenue North in January 1999. The caller, posing as "Lieutenant Scott," convinced then-night manager Jason Allan Krein to strip-search a 17-year-old female employee in his office. Krein later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, and served 30 days in jail. In Kentucky, the assistant manager and her boyfriend also face charges for the McDonald's strip search. The assistant manager faces an unlawful imprisonment charge while her boyfriend faces sexual abuse and sodomy crimes. Authorities charged Stewart with impersonating a police officer and soliciting each of the other crimes. The suspects all pleaded not guilty and face trials next month. "It was a horrible, horrible ordeal that this young lady had to go through," said Walt Sholar, the Bullitt County, Ky., attorney handling one of the cases. Nationwide, Sholar said there are about 70 cases similar to the ones in Kentucky and Fargo. Dozens of police departments have contacted Mount Washington authorities convinced they arrested their suspect. "I have no doubt in my mind that he's been the one behind all of them," Mount Washington Police Detective Buddy Stump said. "For the sake of the rest of the country, I hope and pray that it is." Stump broke the case open after the city told him to find the caller. "We realized how many people have been affected across the United States," he said. "I thought it was my duty." With help from detectives in Massachusetts and Florida, Stump zeroed in on a surveillance video at one of Panama City's three Wal-Marts. Once they had the guy's image, they tracked Stewart to a private prison company where he worked. Stewart remains free on bond until his trial. Calls to a phone listing for David Stewart in Panama City went unanswered. In January 1999, a man called six Fargo businesses- two Burger Kings, three Taco Bells and Payless Shoe Store - in an attempt to convince managers to strip-search female employees. At the north Fargo Burger King, Krein went along with the caller's demands, undressing the employee and touching her legs to describe them to the caller. At Krein's court hearing, East Central District Judge Georgia Dawson said "it's just not conceivable" for Krein to think the search was proper. Fargo attorney Adam Hamm, a prosecutor then, told Dawson the girl was traumatized for months. "Of all the cases I prosecuted, this was one of the cases that burned itself into my memory," Hamm said. "I have always wondered if I made the right decision in charging Jason Krein with the charge." Hamm said he prepared a more serious charge against Krein but balked at filing it because of how state law defines sexual contact. "I knew I could prove the misdemeanor and at some level he had to be held responsible," Hamm said. After the Fargo strip search, the girl and her parents sued Burger King, owned by RED Inc. in Grand Forks, N.D. The case was settled in mediation, according to those familiar with the case. Details of the settlement are not public. Krein moved to Wisconsin and could not be reached for comment. Fargo Lt. Tod Dahle recalls the Burger King search because police tracked one call to a Florida pay phone and the caller posed as a Fargo officer. After the incident, Fargo police received reports of similar incidents in Grand Forks, Devils Lake, N.D., Watertown, S.D., and Virginia and Wisconsin. "Ever since that happened, I probably got a call about that case every three months," he said. "Of course, I'd learn it happened somewhere else." With Stewart's arrest, Dahle said Fargo police will ask prosecutors to review the case to determine if charges can be filed against Stewart. "I think to some degree, the people (managers) wanted to participate," Dahle said. "I don't think we'll ever know how many times this guy (Stewart) was told no."

New England Prison
Dickinson, North Dakota
October 7, 2004 Bismarck Tribune
A new women's prison in southwestern North Dakota is running $228,000 in deficits for its operations and medical costs, and it hopes to negotiate higher state payments in the next two years, its administrator says.
Medical expenses alone for the New England prison, which now houses about 90 inmates, have exceeded state payments by about $140,000 from November 2003 through September, said Colby Braun, the prison's interim director. The New England prison, which is a converted Roman Catholic boarding school and convent, has a contract to house female inmates in North Dakota's prison system. It began taking minimum-security prisoners last November, more than three months late, and started accepting medium-security inmates only last August. The delays prompted the prison's board of directors to demand that its administrator, Norbert Sickler, take early retirement. Braun told lawmakers on Wednesday that the prison has incurred $465,049 in inmate medical expenses from November 2003 through September 2004, while getting $324,997 in state payments. The contract says the New England prison will absorb the first $50,000 of any medical cost overrun, with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation making up any shortfall beyond that.

North Dakota Department of Corrections
Jun 5, 2020

Longtime North Dakota corrections director resigns, takes job with controversial private prison firm. More revolving door

Utah-based Management & Training Corp., where Leann Bertsch will work as a senior vice president, has faced a number of high-profile lawsuits, alleging human rights violations in prisons, mismanagement of facilities and engaging in corrupt contracts with a public official.

BISMARCK — After 15 years at the helm, the director of North Dakota's prison system has resigned her position with the state to take a job in the private sector. Leann Bertsch was originally appointed to lead the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in 2005 by then-Gov. John Hoeven, but both of Hoeven's successors reappointed her to the role upon taking office. Bertsch will formally leave the post at the end of July. "The strong commitment to improve lives of the adults and youth committed to our custody and supervision is reflected in the many reforms that include the reduced use of restrictive housing, the increase in humanity by incorporating the principles of normality and dynamic security, and community involvement to make better neighbors rather than better prisoners," Bertsch said in her resignation letter. Gov. Doug Burgum commended the job Bertsch has done with the department, saying she has "reshaped the corrections landscape in North Dakota" with her innovative approach. Bertsch has accepted the role of senior vice president of corrections for Utah-based Management & Training Corp., a company with a troubled history that runs more than a dozen private prisons and immigration detention facilities around the country. The firm has faced a number of high-profile lawsuits, alleging human rights violations in prisons, mismanagement of facilities and corrupt acts in dealings with a public official. Three inmates escaped from an Arizona prison run by the company in 2010. One escapee was later convicted of murdering two people in New Mexico while on the run, according to the Arizona Republic. A state report found the company's poor security measures at the facility and general lack of organization to be responsible for the prison break. Arizona later cut ties with the company after a riot at the same facility, but the company's website shows it still operates one prison in the state. In 2015, nearly 2,000 inmates rioted at a Texas "tent prison" run by the company after years of complaints by inmates of poor medical care and neglectful living conditions, according to Frontline. Kayli Richards, a spokesperson for the North Dakota corrections department, could not be reached for comment. Burgum appointed Dave Krabbenhoft, a longtime state employee, to take over for Bertsch on an interim basis. Krabbenhoft currently serves as the department's director of administration. Bertsch is the second member of Burgum's cabinet to resign in the past two weeks. State Health Officer Mylynn Tufte submitted her resignation last week after three years on the job. Ambiguity still surrounds Tufte's departure after Burgum would not directly answer whether he asked for her resignation, however Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki confirmed that Bertsch was not asked to resign and did so of her own accord. hics and Compliance hotline (at no charge) or through the CoreCivic website. Detainees are also informed of their right to be free from sexual abuse and their ability to confidentially report any such abuse in frequent town hall meetings. In this case, CoreCivic wasn't informed of the allegation until nine months after it allegedly occurred, when the company was contacted by these attorneys. The allegation was investigated by ICE and the Harris County Sheriff's Department. The investigation determined that the allegation was unfounded. CoreCivic will vigorously defend this allegation in court.

Pembina County

May 2, 2002
A privately run prison is not the answer to the state's inmate housing problems, say consultants who are preparing a report on North Dakota's corrections system. The consultants' comments, made Wednesday to members of the Legislature's interim Corrections Committee, irritated Pembina County officials who have been trying to rally support for a private prison in North Dakota's northeastern corner. The company's president, Michael Fair, and vice president Karl Becker told legislators Wednesday they did not believe a privately run prison would save money for North Dakota taxpayers. 'I would suggest at this point, for a system this size, it's only going to cost you,' Fair said. Becker said private corrections companies would probably have more difficulty hiring North Dakota workers because of the state's low unemployment rate and small labor pool. The companies also count on having fewer workers and paying them less than state employees make, but North Dakota's corrections system already has 'very, very lean' staffing and relatively low pay, he said. 'I'd be very surprised if a private facility could come in, with a comparable type of penitentiary, and save significant dollars,' Becker said. Fair said a private company would ask the state to guarantee a minimum number of inmates for its prison. Inmates who are sick, or pose disciplinary problems, would be put back into the state corrections system, he said. 'They get to operate with the cream of the crop, every state they go to,' Fair said. 'Look at the security levels that private operators run. They don't run any of the big, tough institutions.' Five years ago, county officials lobbied former Gov. Ed Schafer to support a private prison in Pembina County. Instead, Schafer advocated converting a building on the grounds of the Jamestown state mental hospital into a prison. The Legislature approved the remodeling project, and the James River Correctional Center now holds more than 300 inmates. (The Bismarck Tribune)

Perry County Correctional and Rehabilitation Center,
Uniontown, Alabama
Louisiana Correctional Services
June 3, 2010 The Dickinson Press
Four Alabama fugitives who were involved in a standoff near Gladstone that ended a year ago today cost Stark County nearly $80,000, officials say. North Dakota taxpayers will continue paying for them as they serve their prison sentences — which vary from 7.5 years to 20 years. Stark County officials wonder if an Alabama prison is to blame for the incident and whether they can make the prison cover some of the costs. Ashton Mink and Joshua Southwick allegedly escaped from Perry County Correctional Center in Alabama with the help of Mink’s wife, Jacquelin, and his sister, Angela in May 2009. “Frankly, the escape was well-planned and very well-executed,” said Richard Harbison, executive vice president of LCS Correction Service Inc., which owns Perry County Correction Center. “They knew exactly what they were doing and they were able to find the weaknesses, so to speak.” He added they’re the only ones to ever escape from the prison. The four then robbed Movie Gallery in Dickinson at gunpoint, shot at a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper and holed up in a garage at a farmstead near Gladstone. After a standoff with police that lasted several hours, Southwick and Angela Mink — who were reportedly dating — surrendered. Ashton and Jacquelin Mink ran out the back of the garage they were hiding in handcuffed together and fired at officers. Authorities believe they were trying to end their own lives by getting officers to fire at them. Ashton Mink was shot by officers and Jacquelin Mink then shot herself. Tom Henning, Stark County state’s attorney, said the county is refusing to pay an additional $65,000 for Jacquelin Mink’s hospital bill. He said that bill was from her stay at a Bismarck hospital after the standoff, but before she was taken to jail. “These people were not arrested and had not been in the custody of Stark County, and therefore we aren’t responsible,” Henning said. Stark County has to pay for their medical costs after they were arrested. Ashton Mink was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson, which did not bill the county for his treatment. “After they inquired about the nature of the matter and were informed that we did not consider them to be prisoners at the time of their injuries, nor were they in custody at the time of their injuries, they did not inquire any further about payment,” Henning said. Though he hasn’t begun researching whether or not it is possible, Henning said he plans to pursue a lawsuit against LCS Correction Service. “The question kind of looms about whether or not they could be found to have been negligent and therefore responsible for foreseeable costs of their escape,” Henning said. Harbison declined comment regarding the matter. However, he said security has been enhanced at the prison since the escape, though he wouldn’t say how. “We’ve changed a number of policies and of course a number of people were fired over the incident,” Harbison said. Angela and Jacquelin Mink cut the power lines to an electric fence around the prison during a storm so the men could escape, according to a previous Press article. After the fugitives’ serve their time, they will be taken back to Alabama to face prison escape charges, Harbison said. Costs: Housing: $53,400 ($60 a day while going through court procedures) Medical: $20,704 Hospital security: $3,945 Total: $78,049

June 24, 2009 Park Rapids Enterprise
Ashton Mink was arrested after a nearly 14-hour standoff June 6, on a ranch south of Gladstone. Authorities say Mink and his wife, Jacquelin, were wounded in an exchange of gunfire. Authorities say one of four Alabama fugitives has been transferred from a Dickinson hospital to jail. Ashton Mink was arrested after a nearly 14-hour standoff June 6, on a ranch south of Gladstone. Authorities say Mink and his wife, Jacquelin, were wounded in an exchange of gunfire. Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said Ashton Mink was released Tuesday from a Dickinson hospital and taken to jail. He is awaiting a bail hearing. Jacquelin Mink is hospitalized in Bismarck. The couple along with Ashton Mink's sister Angela and Joshua Southwick, face charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit robbery. They are accused of robbing a movie store in Dickinson and shooting at a Highway Patrol trooper. Authorities say Southwick and Ashton Mink escaped from an Alabama prison in May and that Angela and Jacquelin Mink helped them.

June 10, 2009 Athens News-Courier
Tom Henning, state’s attorney in Stark County, N.D., said it’s possible the four people accused in an escape from an Alabama prison facility will remain imprisoned in North Dakota for some time. If convicted, the group could serve sentences there before being returned to Alabama to face charges of escape. “Yes, they could end up spending jail time in North Dakota, presuming convictions and at such time as we’re satisfied, then they’ll go back to the demanding state,” he said. Joshua Southwick, who was convicted in the 2003 slaying of a Limestone County man, and Ashton Mink, convicted of attempted murder in a stabbing during a home invasion in Madison, escaped from the Perry County Correctional Facility in Uniontown, Ala., on May 25. U.S. Marshals say Angela Mink, Ashton’s sister, and Jacquelin Mink, his wife, cut the fence from the outside of the private prison facility to help the two get free. The four were captured in Gladstone, N.D., Saturday during a video store robbery. Southwick and Angela gave themselves up but Ashton and Jacquelin held officers at bay for 14 hours. They were shot in the process. Ashton is under armed guard at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center in Dickinson, N.D. His wife is under armed guard at St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, N.D., Henning said. “I have no idea when they will be able to go to court,” he said. “I’d say at least a month.” In the meantime, Southwick and Angela Mink are being held at Southwest Multi-County Correctional Facility, each charged with criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, which carries a 10-year maximum sentence. “It’s entirely likely there will be more charges” stemming from the standoff and shootout, Henning said.

June 6, 2009 KFYR TV
Four of America's Most Wanted fugitives were arrested Saturday in western North Dakota. The group started out in Alabama earlier in the week and came to North Dakota where police say they went on a crime spree. By Saturday night, two of the suspects were recovering in a Dickinson-area hospital after being shot by police after a standoff in Gladstone. That was the culmination of a series of crimes that started with a robbery Friday night in Dickinson and included shots being fired at a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper during a chase. Let's take you back a week and set the stage that led to these events. Police had been looking for 26-year-old Joshua Southwick, and 22-year-old Ashton Mink since they escaped from an Alabama prison on Memorial Day. Mink was serving a 20-year sentence for 1st degree assault. Southwick was serving a life sentence for murder and 1st degree burglary. Authorities say they escaped prison in Alabama by wearing kitchen workers` uniforms The pair allegedly fled through holes that were cut out of the prison fence by Ashton Mink's wife, Jacquelin, and sister Angela Mink. Somewhere along the way, all four made it to North Dakota. The trouble in North Dakota started in Dickinson Friday night around 11:00, when the suspects, two men and two women, robbed a movie rental store. The foursome fled, and a Highway Patrol trooper noticed a suspicious car speeding away. The trooper followed the car onto I-94, and that's when passenger in the suspects` car fired at the trooper. At least one bullet went into the trooper's car. The fleeing car continued east to Gladstone prompting the Highway Patrol to lock down the small town. Authorities blocked off a two-mile section of road leading into town. Police kept an eye on things during as residents were notified of the threat through a reverse 911 system. Gladstone resident Kim Hetzel says, "After we got the automated phone call early this morning, get up, and lock the doors, and kinda just watch out." Authorities found the suspects after the owner of a farmstead noticed the four were staking out in his detached garage. Stark County sheriff Clarence Tuhy says, "They're from the Alabama area; the two males are escapees from a private prison in the Alabama area which were aided in escape by the two females." The perps took refuge in the farmstead's garage as more than a half dozen agencies flocked to the area. About 12 hours later Tuhy says, "A male and a female came out giving up peacefully at which time a male and female came out a side door firing at officers." Officers then fired back, striking both Ashton Mink and his wife, Jacquelin. The couple is being treated at an area hospital. So far, there's no word on the conditions of the two suspects who were shot. No officers were injured, and Joshua Southwick and Angela Mink were taken into custody. "Any time no officers get injured is a good thing," notes Tuhy. But while no officers or residents were hurt physically, it will take a long time for the emotional scars of this almost surreal crime to heal.

Prairie Correctional Facility
Appleton, Minnesota
December 26, 2009 AP
The closing of a private prison that once housed dozens of North Dakota inmates shouldn't affect the state's management of its prisoners, North Dakota's corrections director says. The Prairie Correctional Facility at Appleton, Minn., is shutting down Feb. 1. The prison, which is capable of holding about 1,600 inmates, is about 150 miles southeast of Fargo. Its owner, Corrections Corp. of America, which is based in Nashville, Tenn., said there has been much less demand for prison space from the states of Minnesota and Washington, the lockup's two primary customers. North Dakota's Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation used the Appleton prison for several years to relieve overcrowding problems in North Dakota's system. However, the state hasn't sent prisoners to Appleton since the spring of 2006, said Leann Bertsch, the agency's director. The private prison housed more than 40 North Dakota inmates that year.

January 25, 2006 AP
A private Minnesota prison is giving North Dakota more time to find space for inmates who have been housed there. The Appleton prison, operated by Corrections Corporation of America, notified North Dakota in November that it no longer had room for North Dakota prisoners. As of early this week, the state still had 48 prisoners in Appleton, which is more than 300 miles from Bismarck. North Dakota warden Tim Schuetzle said the Appleton prison has given North Dakota until the end of March to find another place for them. CCA offered to take some prisoners to another prison it operates in Colorado for the same price per day, per inmate - $54, Schuetzle said. But the Colorado lockup is about twice as far from Bismarck as the Minnesota prison, and the Colorado prison will only take 27 North Dakota prisoners, he said.

December 15, 2005 Bismarck Tribune
Until everyone sentenced by the state justice system can serve their prison time in facilities in North Dakota, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will face the quandary of where to place all the inmates. The problem was highlighted by the decision made by Corrections Corporation of America that its privately owned, run-for-profit prison in Appleton, Minn., soon will not take North Dakota prisoners, and the ones already there will have to go elsewhere. CCA's decision about the Appleton prison was prompted by its agreement with the state of Minnesota to give priority to that state's needs, and Minnesota has a growing surfeit of inmates. But CCA has made an offer to the North Dakota prison administration: The company will take some overflow prisoners into one of its many other prisons, this one located in Burlington, Colo. It is a limited solution, not an ideal one. The mileage from North Dakota to eastern Colorado is double that to southwestern Minnesota. That fact plays out in staff time and other costs for transporting prisoners, a fact noted by Director of Prisons and penitentiary Warden Tim Schuetzle. He talks about the cost and the logistics of DOCR staff doing transportation because the department is leery of using TransCor, a company owned by CCA that specializes in the activity. It was TransCor that misplaced notorious prisoner Kyle Bell some years ago.

December 6, 2005 AP
A private prison in Minnesota can no longer take inmates from North Dakota, the North Dakota prison warden says. Warden Tim Schuetzle said the Prairie Correctional Facility in Appleton, Minn., is filling up with Minnesota inmates and can no longer house North Dakota prisoners. "Sometime over the next month or so we'll be moving the North Dakota inmates out of Appleton," he said. "That creates problems for us because we don't have any space at our prisons here." He said arrangements are being made to house prisoners at another privately run prison in Burlington, Colo. "But it's twice as far for us to transport inmates so it's more expensive," Schuetzle said.

Tower City, North Dakota
Extradition Transport of America
Sep 20, 2013

BISMARCK – A prisoner transport company that allowed a sex offender to escape from one of its vans in 2011 in Barnes County has agreed to pay $70,000 to reimburse authorities and farmers who used combines to flush Joseph Matthew Megna from a cornfield. U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon, who announced the settlement Monday, said Extradition Transport of America LLC also agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty. Purdon said it was the first lawsuit filed under the Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act of 2000, also known as Jeanna’s Act in reference to 11-year-old Jeanna North of Fargo, who was murdered in 1993 by Kyle Bell. After being sentenced to life in prison, Bell escaped in October 1999 from a private prisoner transport bus and was apprehended three months later. Megna was being transported from Florida to Washington to face a child molestation charge on Oct. 4, 2011, when he escaped from the ETA van at an Interstate 94 rest stop near Tower City and fled into a cornfield. The Barnes County Sheriff’s Office eventually rounded up a group of local farmers with combines to take down the corn, and Megna surrendered shortly after the harvest began.

September 7, 2012 Superior Telegram
A prisoner transport company says it should not have to pay costs to farmers who helped flush an escaped convict from a North Dakota cornfield. A federal lawsuit against Extradition Transport of America asks a judge to order restitution for several law enforcement agencies and the farmers who formed a posse for the October 2011 search. Authorities say about $95,000 was spent recapturing Joseph Megna, who was being transported from Florida to Washington state. The feds say the action is possible under a 2000 federal law passed following the escape in New Mexico of an inmate convicted of murdering an 11-year-old Fargo girl, Jeanna North. The company says in a response filed Wednesday that the federal court does not have jurisdiction in the case and it should be thrown out.

January 4, 2012 In Forum
A sex offender who fled a private prison transport van and led authorities on a 22-hour manhunt last fall in a Barnes County cornfield pleaded guilty to a felony escape charge Wednesday. Joseph Matthew Megna, 30, who was being extradited from Florida to the state of Washington on Oct. 4 when he escaped the van and sparked a search that cost more than $91,000, was sentenced in Barnes County District Court to the three months in jail he’s already served. He’ll again be extradited to Franklin County, Wash., where he faces a first-degree charge of child molestation for allegedly fondling a boy under the age of 12. He faces up to life in prison if convicted. After being arrested mid-afternoon on Oct. 5, Megna claimed he escaped when the van stopped at an Interstate 94 rest stop because he hadn’t been properly fed in the trip from Florida. He reiterated that claim Wednesday morning, looking around and saying no one else in the courtroom would have acted any differently. “I was treated basically like an animal,” he said. Megna apologized to the people of Barnes County, whom he called “very nice people,” and said he didn’t mean to cause problems. “It was stupid and wrong, but under the circumstances, I felt it was the thing to do at the time,” he said. Barnes County State’s Attorney Lee Grossman acknowledged that the sentence was lenient when considering Megna’s criminal record and the manhunt. But, given that keeping Megna here would have meant time in prison, it was the appropriate sentence to get him out of Barnes County and on the road to Washington, where he faces a far more serious charge, Grossman said. “This is small potatoes compared to that,” he said. Meanwhile, authorities – and farmers who harvested part of the cornfield to try to flush out Megna – are still waiting for the insurer of the transport company, Extradition Transport of America LLC, to reimburse them for the manhunt. Chief Deputy Don Fiebiger said a Texas firm is handling the claim. “Their holdup has been getting information from actually the transport company,” he said. “So it’s been three months and we haven’t got any checks from them or anything.” Fiebiger said the U.S. Attorney’s Office also is looking into whether the transport company should pay a civil penalty of $10,000 for violating the Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act, also known as Jeanna’s Act in reference to 11-year-old Jeanna North of Fargo, who was murdered in 1993 by escapee Kyle Bell. Franklin County plans to use a different transport company to move Megna this time, Fiebiger said. Costs incurred with Megna manhunt -- This list of costs associated with the 22-hour manhunt for Joseph Megna on Oct. 4-5 was submitted to the insurer of the prisoner transport company that allowed him to escape from one of its transport vans. Barnes County Sheriff Randy McClaflin said they’re still awaiting payment from the insurance company. Agency Cost -- American Red Cross $400 Barnes County Sheriff‘s Office $4,756 Cass County Sheriff’s Office $8,450 Customs helicopter (8.4 hours) $15,473 Fargo K-9/SWAT $746 James/Valley SWAT/Stutsman Sheriff’s Office $4,982 Moorhead Police Department $243 N.D. Bureau of Criminal Investigation $460 N.D. Game and Fish Department $5,790 N.D. State Patrol/airplane $11,277 Smith farm/area farmers $35,230 Valley City Police Department/CodeRED $3,063 West Fargo Police Department $153 Total $91,023

October 7, 2011 AP
A manhunt for a convicted sex offender who was flushed from a North Dakota cornfield with the help of farmers in combines cost law enforcement about $55,000, and local authorities said Friday that the transport company moving the inmate should pay the bill. California-based Extradition Transport of America was moving Joseph Megna from Florida to Washington state. Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said the company, which is bonded and insured for such incidents, is cooperating and should pick up the tab. "Their mishandling of this situation cost the taxpayers of all these entities a lot of money," Laney said. Laney said the company could face sanctions under a federal law, sponsored by former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan, that was prompted by the escape of a man who murdered a Fargo girl in 1993. Kyle Bell, convicted of killing 11-year-old Jeanna North, fled in 1999 from a private prison transport bus. Extradition Transport of America declined comment. Megna, 29, escaped during a rest stop Tuesday night near Tower City. Authorities said he was in plain clothes and wasn't handcuffed. He surrendered Wednesday afternoon after farmers in a half-dozen combines - each with SWAT team members as escorts - harvested about 100 acres of corn. "This is unique in the sense that, God bless North Dakota, we bring everybody together to solve the problem and we put guys up on combines," Laney said. Megna was surprised by the attention he received. "Am I famous for running into a cornfield?" he asked a group of reporters through an open window in the back seat of a police sport utility vehicle. Costs include officer overtime, fuel and mileage for ground vehicles, a helicopter and an airplane. The farmers who volunteered their time and equipment will be compensated for fuel, mileage and wear and tear on the combines, Laney said.

October 5, 2011 INFORUM
A high-risk sex offender who escaped a prisoner transport van and sought refuge in a cornfield near here was nabbed by law enforcement about 2:30 p.m. today. Joseph Megna, 29, said he's a vegetarian and the "transport lady" was serving him nothing but bread and cheese. "I was starving and that's why I escaped and fled out into the cornfield," he said after being captured. "I wasn’t trying to hurt anybody.” Authorities tapped the help of local farmers in an attempt to end the large-scale manhunt that began more than 20 hours ago after Mgna, a convicted high-risk sex offender from Washington state, fled a transport van near here Tuesday.