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News Briefs: Plea hearing set for NDSU linebacker

Editor's note: The following is a collection of news briefs from Forum Communication Company newspapers in North Dakota and Minnesota.

Plea hearing set for NDSU linebacker


FARGO - A starting linebacker for the North Dakota State University football team will appear at a change of plea hearing Aug. 19 in Cass County District Court.

Travis Beck previously pleaded not guilty in Fargo Municipal Court to a resisting arrest charge.

The change of plea hearing comes after prosecutors dropped a more serious felony assault charge against Travis Beck, 21, on June 13.

A notice was filed Friday in Cass County District Court setting the change of plea hearing.

Both charges were linked to a brawl outside a downtown Fargo restaurant after 2 a.m. June 9 in which police said Beck knocked the other man unconscious.

Prosecutors said they dropped the more serious charge because surveillance video from nearby businesses and police cameras showed Beck might have been acting in self-defense. Surveillance video also showed four officers converging on Beck after the fight, during which he seems to struggle as they handcuff him.

City prosecutor Jason Loos confirmed that a plea hearing was set in Beck's case for Aug. 19, but said he did not know if there was a plea deal involved. Loos said Beck is likely to receive a fine and no jail time as part of his sentence.

Beck has no prior record, other than a misdemeanor conviction for underage drinking last September.

Though his father, Gary Beck, Travis Beck declined to comment.

The linebacker was recently reinstated to the Bison football team after an indefinite suspension but isn't practicing because of concussion-like symptoms, coach Craig Bohl said.

Fargo broker gets 10 years for investment scheme

FARGO - Hearing the stories of those affected by an investment scheme in which he stole a combined $900,000 from 19 clients - some of them lifelong friends - former Fargo investment broker Robert Medhus apologized Monday before being sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

"I wish I could disagree with these victims' statements," Medhus said at the sentencing hearing in Cass County District Court. "I cannot."

Medhus pleaded guilty in June to two counts of theft, 13 counts of fraudulent practices and one count of offering to sell unregistered securities.

Court documents say Medhus took investors' money for his own use instead of investing it, then gave them fake or exaggerated account statements under his company name Associated Financial. Prosecutors said Medhus had been working his Ponzi-style scheme on his clients since 1995, although the case only alleged misconduct going back to 2007.

Sex charges dropped because victim 'too traumatized' for trial

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Days before the trial was to begin, a Grand Forks prosecutor on Monday dropped charges against a man accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl, saying "she was too traumatized" to testify.

But Justin Breitweiser, an assistant state's attorney for Grand Forks County, said he has four more years to re-file the same felony charges against Norman Kuehnel, which could put Kuehnel in prison for life.

Kuehnel's attorney, Blake Hankey, meanwhile, protested the judge's approval of the prosecutor's motion, saying it unfairly kept the specter of the charges hanging over his innocent client's head. He asked state District Judge Sonja Clapp to dismiss the charges "with prejudice," which would preclude prosecutors from charging Kuehnel again in connection with the girl's allegations.

Kuehnel, 51, was charged a year ago with three felony counts of gross sexual imposition, alleging he sexually assaulted his then-girlfriend's 13-year-old daughter three times in summer 2010.

Judge Clapp had told Kuehnel earlier he faced up to life in prison without parole if convicted as well as a possible mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years.

He pleaded not guilty and has been free on $10,000 bond awaiting trial.

Bakken Oil Expo planned Aug. 20 - 22

MINOT, N.D. - The Bakken Oil Worker's and Oil Service Expo will be held Aug. 20-22 at the North Dakota State Fair Center here.

The event will feature networking opportunities, seminars and workshops, and the opportunity to set up one-on-one appointments in advance with current and prospective business clients and employers.

The event will also include over 400 indoor and outdoor exhibitors representing 36 states and Canada.

For a complete list of seminars or to register, visit


Man sentenced for rape, faces extradition for Texas murder charge

WILLMAR, Minn. -- A man wanted on murder charges in Texas was sentenced Monday to nearly 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a teenage girl last July in Willmar.

Esequiel Gomez Jr., 22, of Texas, was sentenced on a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge.

The sentence included a 10-year conditional release period after Gomez's 117-month prison term, along with a $1,000 fine and registration as a predatory offender

According to Dain Olson, the assistant Kandiyohi County Attorney prosecuting the case, Texas officials have sent a governor's warrant, seeking Gomez's extradition, to Gov. Mark Dayton.

According to the Tulia Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab linked DNA evidence collected from the scene of the murder of Imogene Harris to the DNA collected in the sexual assault investigation in Willmar.

Harris, 84, was found dead in her Tulia residence Aug. 14, 2011. The city is in Swisher County in the northern panhandle of the state. The cause of death was blunt force trauma.

Texas investigators also have linked Gomez to the assault of an elderly person in Hico, Texas, in June 2008.

Former coach charged with assault of second boy

DULUTH -- A former youth basketball and baseball coach accused of twice sexually assaulting a preteen boy and photographing him in sexual positions was charged Monday with assaulting a second boy.

Peter Jay Olson, 47, was charged June 27 in State District Court in Duluth with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, possessing pictorial representation of minors, and use of a minor in a sexual performance. An amended complaint filed Monday adds one count each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, possession of pornographic work involving minors, and use of a minor in a sexual performance. All eight counts are felonies.

According to the amended criminal complaint, Olson acknowledged taking nude photographs of the second victim while at the same cabin on Island Lake where the first victim had been photographed.

Olson was the second boy's baseball coach when the child was between 9 and 12 years old. Based on information provided by the second boy, the assaults would have taken place between about 2005 and 2008, the complaint said.

Olson was a longtime coach with the Lake Park Little League, resigning in June. According to the Salvation Army, Olson started coaching in the Rookie Basketball program in 1988 and was terminated in November.