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Judge: Man convicted of mistreating horses can leave N.D. for work

BISMARCK – A Fargo man convicted of animal cruelty and mistreatment in the deaths of more than 100 horses can leave North Dakota for work while a case alleging he violated his probation by buying a horse is pending, a judge ruled Tuesday.

“Right now, I’m working on a business transaction involving about 15 to 16 different car dealerships in six states,” William Kiefer told Judge Bruce Haskell in Burleigh County District Court in Bismarck.

Before he can travel, Kiefer must post $700 bond to get out of jail. Haskell left that amount unchanged after it was set by Judge Bruce Romanick on Monday in Morton County District Court in Mandan.

Kiefer, 64, pleaded guilty in December to five counts of cruelty to animals in Morton County and four counts of overworking, mistreating or abandoning animals in Burleigh County, all Class A misdemeanors.

Authorities confiscated 157 horses from Kiefer and found 99 horses dead on his properties in Morton and Burleigh counties in January 2013. Three of the seized horses were so weak they later died.

The case drew national attention and spurred the 2013 North Dakota Legislature to pass a law making it a Class C felony to intentionally torture or mutilate an animal or break its bones.

Kiefer was sentenced Dec. 31 to one year in jail, with six months suspended during two years of supervised probation that began Jan. 7. He served the other six months on electronic home monitoring in Fargo, completing that part of his sentence July 7.

Prosecutors filed a petition Aug. 6 seeking to revoke Kiefer’s probation, alleging he violated the terms by purchasing a horse for $2,000 on July 29 from a woman in Powell, Wyo., and by failing to follow through with court-ordered mental health services.

Kiefer, who is banned from owning or possessing livestock while on probation, was taken into custody by authorities Thursday in Fargo.

Morton County Sheriff Dave Shipman said the Wyoming woman who sold Kiefer the horse contacted the sheriff’s office after learning about his past. On Tuesday, Haskell ordered Kiefer to have no contact with the woman as a condition of his release.

Kiefer’s attorney, Scott Hager of Bismarck, asked the judge to allow Kiefer to travel out of state, as he’d been allowed to do prior to the alleged probation violation. Assistant State’s Attorney Christine McAllister deferred to the judge on whether Kiefer should be allowed to leave the state for work.

Kiefer, whose work history includes more than 25 years as an investment executive and financial adviser, told the judge he’s a “business consultant.” Haskell ordered that Kiefer can’t leave the state without court permission except for work purposes.

Hager declined to comment after the hearing.

Reach Nowatzki at (701) 255-5607 or by email at

Mike Nowatzki

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