Jamestown business owner facing 62 misdemeanor charges appears in court
Jamestown, ND - A Jamestown man appeared in the Southeast District Court in Jamestown Wednesday on multiple misdemeanor charges related to alleged problems with contracts for his business.
Brian Lee Hanson, 44, 1011 10th St. SE, made his initial court appearance on 62 misdemeanor charges for alleged irregularities in more than 90 contracts he made with customers to finance the purchase of vehicles or the repair of vehicles at his business, Budget Auto Sales & Service in Jamestown.
Hanson appeared before Judge Thomas Merrick on 31 counts of usury, a Class B misdemeanor, and 31 counts of violating the Truth in Lending Act, a Class A misdemeanor. Hanson said he will be hiring his own attorney and is free on a personal recognizance bond. Hanson or his attorney will appear for a status conference scheduled for 1:15 p.m. July 23.
Merrick said because there are multiple misdemeanor charges the most time in jail Hanson would face if he is found guilty or pleads guilty is two years. The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. The maximum penalty for a Class B misdemeanor is 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
After his court appearance Wednesday, Hanson denied he offered to pay the interest on a woman’s car loan and forgive one loan payment in exchange for her participating in a sexual encounter with him. Hanson has not been charged with any sexual crime in this matter.
Jamestown Police Department Sgt. Detective Thomas Nagel said the alleged loan payment offer is what started his investigation into the contracts that Hanson made with customers to finance vehicles or vehicle repairs.
According to court documents, on May 8, 2013, Hanson allegedly entered into a contract with a woman to purchase a vehicle. The woman financed the vehicle through Hanson. The woman went to talk to Hanson on Nov. 8, because she was having financial difficulty in making her payment.
The woman filed a report with the Jamestown Police Department about the alleged loan payment offer after speaking to Hanson on Nov. 8. Court documents state Nagel interviewed Hanson on Nov. 13 about the alleged encounter between himself and the woman. Nagel also questioned Hanson about the financing contract. He obtained a copy of the contract from Hanson and found alleged violations of North Dakota usury law and the federal government’s Truth in Lending Act.
One alleged violation of the North Dakota usury law was Hanson charging 10 percent monthly interest rate on the loan, which translates to a 120 percent annual interest rate. The North Dakota usury law limits the annual interest rate on a loan to 5 1/2 percent as reflected by the average rate of interest payable on U.S. treasury bills maturing in six months.
The Truth in Lending Act regulates contracts for loans and other financing documents. The act requires that certain terms used in a contract for a loan must be defined and terms of a loan must be clearly defined and included in the contract language.
Nagel said based on his review of the woman’s contract, he was able to get a search warrant in December for Budget Auto Sales & Service to obtain copies of financing contracts Hanson had with other customers.
Sun reporter Chris Olson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org