One of the first stories we covered here on The Minuteman, when we started a year ago, was the saga regarding a Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) agent, a North Dakota businessman, and the inappropriate confiscation of his payloader.
In May of 2014, BCI Agent Arnie Rummel obtained a warrant to seize what he thought was a stolen payloader from Forbes, North Dakota businessman Darrel Schrum. Following the seizure, Agent Rummel gave the payloader to an individual he believed to be the true owner. Unfortunately for Rummel, a Dickey County judge disagreed. Rummel was ordered to return the payloader, but was unable to do so– leaving him in contempt of court and fined $500.
In addition to Agent Rummel’s contempt charge and a $500 fine, he was charged with misdemeanors of misapplication of entrusted property and a public servant refusing to perform their duty. As a result of the charges, Rummel was removed from field work and only allowed to work in the office.
But early in 2016, the Dickey County State’s Attorney dropped those charges against Rummel and he was reinstated to investigative work. Not only was he reinstated without any real consequence, he was also praised by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem – then a candidate for governor – in the process. Nevertheless, Darrel Schrum was still without a payloader– which was speculated to have ended up in Mexico.
Initially Schrum filed suit in the state courts, but the North Dakota Supreme Court threw out the restitution order based on a filing technicality. Though even they admitted the payloader shouldn’t have been given away. Schrum then filed suit in federal court where it now appears a settlement of $55,000 has been reached and he will finally have some closure and compensation.
Think about this for a moment… a BCI agent confiscates private property, inappropriately disposes of that property, has charges dropped against him– in spite of it being blatantly obvious he acted inappropriately, is reinstated to field duty, then praised by his boss (the Attorney General and candidate for governor) while the person he took the property from is left with nothing but a court battle to try to obtain some sort of compensation.
Now, thankfully for Darrel Schrum this is coming to a close, but I think it stinks to high heaven. To me, it seems that the system is backwards and unfair. Schrum didn’t ask for this. Nevertheless, he ended up without his payloader (not to mention the broken door to his shop and the disabled security camera) and a legal battle that lasted nearly three years.
Agent Rummel got what amounted to a slap on the wrist and kept his job in the process. Imagine if the roles were reversed and Schrum had taken something from the BCI. We wouldn’t be talking about a slap on the wrist. Instead, they’d be piping in sunlight to him.
2. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=648483648649683&id=562643840566998 (NOTE: Follow the links to see other related articles to this issue.)