Dickinson insurance agent pleads not guilty to felony counts of theftA Dickinson insurance agent pleaded not guilty Monday to five felony counts of theft of property for allegedly for taking a client’s money to pay his own debt.
By: Betsy Simon, The Dickinson Press
A Dickinson insurance agent pleaded not guilty Monday to five felony counts of theft of property for allegedly for taking a client’s money to pay his own debt.
Scott Biggs is alleged to have withdrawn $30,000 from a client’s trust account without the client’s prior knowledge.
According to the criminal complaint filed May 30, between June 2009 and November 2011, Biggs knowingly took or exercised unauthorized control over, or made an unauthorized transfer of an interest in money or assets exceeding $10,000 belonging to a client.
Also in the criminal complaint, Biggs is accused of knowingly took or exercised unauthorized control over, or made an unauthorized transfer of an interest in money or assets exceeding $500.
Biggs’ attorney, Irvin Nodland of Bismarck, argued at the hearing at the Stark County Courthouse that when money was placed in the trust the funds there is a chance that the funds were no longer the property of Biggs’ client.
“Once he placed the money in the trust, is it possible that he no longer had control or authority of the trust?” Nodland asked Mark Nickel with North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigations, which looked into the matter.
Nickel, who was the only witness called to testify at the hearing, said it was possible that the trust documents stated that.
But Nickel had not seen the documents himself and didn’t know what they stated.
Assistant Attorney General and prosecutor Jon Byers said the issue is that Biggs’ client moved his money based on advice from Biggs.
“We’re alleging that the client thought he still had right to the money and did so under the advice of Mr. Biggs,” Byers said.
Nodland argued that the case is not actually a criminal matter, but is instead a civil case.
But Judge William Herauf said he was concerned by testimony from Nickel that indicated that the victim “thought he had the right to the money and he could not get it back.”
“I do not know what the man signed or what the trust documents say,” Herauf said.
Herauf believed there was enough evidence to proceed with further hearings.
The four Class B felonies Biggs is charged with each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The one Class C felony Biggs is charged with carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.