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Dickinson man faces 5 felony counts of theft in trial

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news Dickinson, 58602

Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

Testimony continued Thursday at the Stark County Courthouse in Dickinson for the second day in a trial for Scott Biggs, a former Dickinson insurance agent facing five felony counts of theft of property.

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Biggs, who is charged with four Class B counts and one Class C count of theft of property, allegedly placed a client's assets into various trust accounts and, without the knowledge of the client, John Dufner, withdrew $30,000 from one of the accounts Sept. 11, 2009, according to a cease and desist order signed by State Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm on June 27.

When Dufner attempted to withdraw money from an account, Biggs allegedly advised him that the IRS had frozen the accounts. Dufner requested proof, but Biggs allegedly refused to provide any documentation.

"(Biggs) was going to try and liquidate them but said he couldn't," Dufner testified Thursday.

Biggs also is accused of issuing two cashier's checks from a savings account that had been set up for Dufner. The first check in the amount of $23,552 was paid to a Chase credit card in Biggs' name.

Biggs allegedly used the second check written for $5,805 to purchase three gold coins.

When asked by Assistant Attorney General and prosecutor Jon Byers why Dufner placed so much trust in Biggs, he replied, "Scott was the best man at my wedding. I trusted him like my brother."

Irvin Nodland, Biggs' attorney, questioned Mark Nickel, a special agent with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Fargo office who investigated the case, about why it took Dufner about five years from when the trust was created to go to authorities with his suspicions.

Nickel, who estimated that nearly $40,000 still has not been returned to Dufner, said he believed that from the time the trust was created until the Dufners wanted money to purchase farmland, they had no suspicions.

"Then, they try tried other avenues (to get the money returned)," Nickel said, adding that the theft started in December 2005. "That's my understanding."

Nickel said he interviewed Biggs in November 2011.

"He said he used the money to buy the coins, but he wouldn't tell me where the coins were, but he said he had access and would give them to me," Nickels said, adding that the coins were given to him the following day.

Nodland asked Nickel if he had seen the trust document.

Nickel said he hadn't seen the document in its entirety and couldn't say if the trust was irrevocable and unable to be changed by the trust's creator.

Dufner's wife, Jennifer, testified that Biggs said she could access the trust when "it was in her best interest."

She said the money was originally placed in the trusts to protect the couple's assets, after John Dufner was audited by the government and threatened by a former business partner.

Jennifer Dufner said there was no reason for them to believe putting money in the trust would be troublesome.

"Scott told us about people who had gone through audits and he talked about people who had been destroyed by it and the talk made us grateful to have our assets protected," she said.

The trial will reconvene at 9 a.m. today.

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