Shawn Kluver, of Killdeer, appeared in Southwest District Court in May of 2020 on three class A felony charges related to activities investigators say began as far back as 2015 when it is alleged that Kluver exploited an elderly adult, committed theft by deception and theft of over $50,000.
Nearly a year of ensuing legal battles ended with the dropped charges in May, turning the matter over to the civil judicial courts.
"The undisputed evidence was clear. Mr. Kluver did not mislead SGJ, Gary Olsen or Jayce Howell into believing that they would be the owner of Little Knife and then change the paperwork as alleged. The evidence shows exactly the opposite; that Mr. Kluver was ready and willing to transfer ownership of Little Knife as promised," Kluver's attorney said. "In fact, Mr. Kluver took the initiative to have SGJ’s Attorney Bender draft the documents necessary to affect the transfer. Gary Olsen and Jayce Howell made the conscious choice not to accept ownership of Little Knife; just to take its money."
A statement released by Kluver added, "In all, the Dunn County Prosecutor’s office is the real hero of this case. It refused to be used as a pawn by wealthy out of state interests to gain leverage in the civil matters."
Kluver was originally charged with exploitation of an eligible adult, theft by deception and theft over $50,000. The most recent arrest and charges were the latest in a series of lawsuits Kluver and Environmental Driven Solutions, a company specializing in hydro-excavation and oilfield services, have levied at one another concerning funds.
While the matter has been remanded to civil courts, Jeff Bennett, general manager of Environmental Driven Solutions, said audits of the company’s finances unveiled wrongdoing and financial misappropriation.
“It took no more than a day to become absolutely convinced that we had some serious issues,” Bennett said in an interview with The Press at the time. "A lot of back and forth has happened in the matter and to be honest we’re happy that the new sheriff in Dunn County was willing to do what others before were not by pursuing this matter."
Bennett and company claim that Kluver intentionally and knowingly engaged in actions that deceived the 82-year-old owner of EDS of money through the engagement of multiple schemes, including cashing checks and purchasing assets in the company’s name without authorization.
According to Bennett, the ramifications of Kluver’s actions not only hurt the company financially, but damaged their reputation within the industry.
“We take pride in being environmentally sound and providing the best waste removal services around,” Bennett said. “It burned a lot of bridges.”
State regulators became involved in the dispute in 2016 following noncompliance issues at an oilfield waste treating plant near Killdeer.
Kluver and his attorney's have contended throughout the lengthy court battle that the accusations and subsequent criminal charges were being used, "as a tactic to gain leverage against him for filing a lawsuit" after Kluver ousted a "scheme to build their own illegal waste treatment plant in North Dakota" and reported the discovery to the North Dakota Industrial Commission.
"The investigation into the criminal allegations was fueled by information provided to law enforcement by K. Jayce Howell, Jeff Bennett and Gary Pilgrim, agents for Mr. Olsen, and by Jon Sanstead and Christina Sambor, attorneys in the civil lawsuits," Kluver's attorney said. "In an effort to overwhelm Mr. Kluver’s defense team, Sambor, Sanstead and Bennett produced over 5,500 pages of documents, interviews and photos; sometimes two and three times. However, the tactic of deluging Mr. Kluver’s defense counsel with volumes of evidence was ultimately their undoing. The documents produced by agents for Mr. Olsen ultimately proved Mr. Kluver’s innocence."