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Sex offender pleads not guilty in break-ins

BISMARCK (AP) -- A man convicted of window-peeping in Grand Forks a decade ago and who was being tracked as a high-risk sex offender has pleaded not guilty to a string of Bismarck home break-ins last year.

Donald Gerald, 46, faces 16 felony counts including burglary, surreptitious intrusion and criminal trespass. He is accused of breaking or attempting to break into homes or looking into windows. Authorities allege that Gerald was at or around dozens of homes between July and November 2011.

"He would look for homes that had evidence of children at the address, trampolines, swing sets," Burleigh County Detective Ron Mehrer told KXMB-TV. "There's a lot of activity in yards and activity during late at night ... activities in yards I would say as many as 50."

Gerald is jailed on $500,000 bond and also on a hold from a probation revocation in Fargo on a 2009 criminal trespass conviction in that city. His public defender, Steven Balaban, did not immediately respond to a phone message left by The Associated Press on Tuesday seeking comment.

Gerald was convicted of surreptitious intrusion in Grand Forks County in 2003 after security camera footage showed him climbing on an air conditioning unit to look into the bathroom of a house, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

In Bismarck, several homeowners last year reported encountering someone in their houses in the middle of the night. Authorities allege a GPS tracking device worn by high-risk sex offenders linked Gerald to home break-ins. They also allege that Gerald's DNA was detected on a pair of shoes found outside a home after a break-in last October.

All of the charges against Gerald will be tried at the same time, Assistant State's Attorney Pamela Nesvig told The Bismarck Tribune.