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Ross accepts plea deal
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local Dickinson, 58602
Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

A local business owner charged with arson took a plea agreement during his pretrial conference at the Stark County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon.

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If Jeremy Ross abides by conditions set by the court, such as five years supervised probation, he will not serve jail time.

Ross is accused of setting his vehicle on fire in January 2009 to collect insurance for the loss, according to his criminal complaint.

"When this vehicle was set ablaze, it was set ablaze in town," Jim Hope, Stark County state's attorney said. "It was in the winter. It was not near a residential area. The actions involved here involved no threat of danger to any other person."

Ross' sentence is deferred for five years. The plea agreement also lowered his charge to committing a fraudulent insurance act.

He doesn't have a criminal record, Hope said.

"As an explicit condition of probation, Mr. Ross will continue to make payments on the loan for the Cadillac Escalade that was involved in this," Hope said.

He said the vehicle should be paid off, or nearly paid off, by the time he is done serving probation.

Ross entered an Alford plea, which doesn't mean he admits guilt, but understands there may be enough evidence to convict him, Armstrong said.

Before and after the incident with Ross' vehicle, the smoker at his business, JD's BBQ, malfunctioned and was damaged. However, charges were never filed in regard to those incidents.

"We have no evidence that they were connected," Hope said.

Ross' attorney, Kelly Armstrong, declined comment after the hearing.

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