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Woman, 79, accused of threatening wife and kids of N.D.'s next lieutenant governor

BISMARCK — A 79-year-old Watford City woman faces a felony terrorizing charge on claims she threatened the wife and children of the city's mayor, Brent Sanford, now North Dakota's lieutenant governor-elect.

Alice E. Olson faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted of the charge filed last month in McKenzie County District Court.

A warrant for Olson's arrest was issued Oct. 28. She said by phone Thursday, Nov. 10, that she is innocent of the charge and just found out about it on Wednesday. She said was in Texas, where she and her husband spend part of the winter, and was getting ready to return to Watford City.

A police affidavit filed in the case says Olson went to Sanford's house after an Oct. 3 City Council meeting during which she was arguing and shouting. The affidavit says Olson was reprimanded for her actions by Brent Sanford, who on Tuesday was elected lieutenant governor as running mate to Fargo businessman and Gov.-elect Doug Burgum.

The mayor's wife, Sandra Sanford, told police that one of her children opened the door when Olson arrived. She said Olson told her that "her children were in danger due to a stranger walking to the house and taking or hurting the children," based on Sandra Sanford's roles in the community.

"Olson stated anyone who approached the residence being greeted as she was, could take the children and S. Sanford would never see them again," the affidavit says.

Olson brought up those situations while patting Sanford's 5-year-old daughter on the head, the affidavit says. Olson informed Sandra Sanford that there was a dangerous hill east of her property and "her children could go near this hill and die, never to return," the affidavit says.

Olson also was patting or grabbing the left side of her body as someone concealing a firearm might do, the affidavit says.

Olson said Thursday that she doesn't carry a firearm and didn't have one that day. She also denied making the comments listed in the affidavit, saying she had gone to Sanford's house to ask Sandra Sanford for the phone number of a woman who owed rent in Olson's RV and trailer park, the White Buffalo Campground.

Contrary to the affidavit, Olson said it was Sandra Sanford who brought up the subject of sex offenders. Olson recalled saying "We have to be careful with our children," but said, "I never said anything about her kids going to that hill and dying."

Olson said she left for Texas on Oct. 10. She was packing Thursday to return to North Dakota and was trying to reach her lawyer, she said.

Court records show Olson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in September 2015 and was ordered to pay $500 in fines and fees. An affidavit says Olson was arguing with neighbors and, before walking into her residence, told them that she would go get a gun. Olson said Thursday that she only told them "I'm not done with you yet," and that she pleaded guilty to avoid the legal fees.

Olson also was found guilty in 2011 of misdemeanor criminal trespass and reckless driving, court records show.

Brent and Sandra Sanford could not immediately be reached for comment.

Under state law, the North Dakota Highway Patrol provides security for the governor and the governor's immediately family, as well as those in offices in succession to the governor, including the lieutenant governor, said Lt. Tom Iverson, a patrol spokesman. For security reasons, he wouldn't disclose details of the security provided.

Iverson said the patrol does not provide security for the governor-elect and lieutenant governor-elect. Burgum and Sanford will take office on Dec. 15.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.

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