Haugen does not meet deadline for restitution
Sentencing set for March 13
GRAFTON – Former Walsh County stockbroker Ross O. Haugen, 59, will be sentenced March 13, on seven felony counts of acting as an unregistered broker/dealer in North Dakota.
That comes after he failed to follow the terms of a plea agreement made earlier this month.
Each Class B felony count carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and fine of $10,000 which would add up to a total of 70 years in prison and a $70,000 fine.
At a pre-trial conference Jan. 9, 2013, Haugen changed his plea to guilty, that he sold securities in the amount of $2.5 million to six elderly Walsh County residents in 2006-2007 without a license to do so.
At the pre-trial conference, Haugen, through his attorney Steven Meshbesher, indicated that he wanted to pay $2.1 million in restitution to the six Walsh County victims.
At that time, Walsh County States Attorney Barbara Whelan said that if Haugen could come up with the money to make the Walsh County victims whole, the recommendation of the State’s Attorney’s office would be to keep Haugen on supervised probation with the stipulation that he not be allowed to be involved in any financial or securities transactions.
The Honorable Judge Laurie A. Fontaine set Haugen’s original sentencing date, Jan. 29, as the deadline for him to have the restitution available in his attorney’s trust account.
According to Whelan, as of the end of the business day, Tuesday (Jan. 29), Haugen did not produce the funds he said he would and sentencing remains scheduled for March 13, before Judge Fontaine in the courtroom of the Walsh County Courthouse.
“At that time I will be making a recommendation to the court regarding an appropriate sentence for the guilty pleas to seven Class “B” felony charges,” Whelan said late Tuesday. “The pre-sentence investigation ordered by the court on Jan. 9, has not been completed yet, but the results of that investigation will most likely be a factor in the sentencing recommendation made by my office, as well as the court’s final determination of sentencing.”
Whelan said the case is proceeding on an “open” plea – which means there is no plea agreement and Haugen is no longer allowed to withdraw his guilty pleas and seek a jury trial.
According to Whelan, matters of sentencing are always the responsibility of the judge assigned to the case. Even if a plea agreement is presented, a Judge always has authority to reject it.
In this case, where there is no plea agreement, the court is able to sentence Mr. Haugen up to the maximum penalty of 70 years in prison (10 years for each count), fines of $70,000 ($10,000 for each count), or a combination thereof.
“In the same vein, the court could also conclude that supervised probation with conditions is an appropriate sentence without requiring any jail time,” Whelan said.
Haugen’s sentencing is scheduled for March 13, at 10:30 a.m., in the courtroom at the Walsh County Courthouse and is open to the public.