Ex-Eddy County sheriff charged with abusing department accountsThe former sheriff of Eddy County, N.D., is accused of using government accounts to buy items for himself, including a desktop computer and a back massager.
By: By Archie Ingersoll , Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
The former sheriff of Eddy County, N.D., is accused of using government accounts to buy items for himself, including a desktop computer and a back massager.
Darrell Hager, 54, is charged with misapplication of entrusted property, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
On Monday, Hager told the Herald he disputes the charge and plans to fight it in court but declined to comment on the specifics of the case.
Hager was elected as sheriff in 2006. After serving much of his four-year term, he resigned Sept. 7. He said he stepped down because of personal reasons unrelated to the charge he now faces.
According to charging documents filed Friday, Hager used the Eddy County Sheriff Department’s credit account at Wal-Mart to buy the desktop computer and the massager, along with soda, food and other items. He also put fuel purchases on the department’s credit account at Farmer’s Union Oil Co. in Sheyenne, N.D., the documents state.
The alleged abuses occurred between April 2009 and Sept. 7, when Hager was still sheriff, the documents say.
As part of an inquiry by the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, authorities searched Hager’s home in Sheyenne on Sept. 30, seizing the desktop computer and an Eddy County laptop computer, according to the documents.
The case documents do not give a tally of the purchases he allegedly made or the value of the county computer reportedly found at his home. They do say the total amount is more than $500.
The North Dakota attorney general’s office, which is prosecuting Hager, would not discuss his case. Eddy County State’s Attorney Travis Peterson said his office is not handling the case to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.
Hager, who is not in custody, is set to make his first court appearance Feb. 10 in New Rockford, N.D. He said he has not yet retained an attorney.
Hager said he is not currently working as a law-enforcement officer. He said he became an Eddy County deputy in the early ‘90s and left the department after about a decade. In 2006, voters tapped him to succeed Sheriff Lawrence Schagunn, who did not run for re-election.
A message left for the current Eddy County sheriff, Brandon Maygra, was not returned Monday. Maygra was elected as sheriff in November.
Archie Ingersoll is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.