Federal judge dismisses North Dakota housing kickbacks caseFARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday threw out an indictment against an architect accused of accepting kickbacks for housing contracts on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, after the government said it needed more evidence to continue the case.
By: DAVE KOLPACK,Associated Press, Associated Press
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday threw out an indictment against an architect accused of accepting kickbacks for housing contracts on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, after the government said it needed more evidence to continue the case.
Last month a North Dakota jury found Michael Addington not guilty of accepting a bribe by an agent of an organization receiving federal funds. The panel could not reach a verdict on a conspiracy to commit fraud charge.
U.S. District Judge Patrick Conmy agreed to dismiss the case without prejudice, which means it could be brought up later for further prosecution.
"In light of the jury's verdict on the bribery charge in this case, the decision of the United States was that retrial on the conspiracy charge, while still viable, was not an appropriate use of prosecutorial and judicial resources," U.S. Attorney Timothy Purdon said in a statement.
Addington's lawyer, Mike Hoffman, told The Associated Press that the case was not "well-founded" and two of the government's key witnesses contradicted themselves at trial.
"I'm very happy for Mr. Addington," Hoffman said. "He's a very nice man."
Addington was accused of using his position with the Standing Rock Housing Authority to help First Dakota Enterprises, a Fort Pierre, S.D., construction company, receive new projects. Prosecutors believe he gave information from sealed bids that allowed the company to underbid the competition.
The indictment said Addington was one of the "primary authorizing officers" in approving a $1 million housing project on the North and South Dakota reservation for First Dakota Enterprises in October 2007.
Conmy had declined to dismiss the second count after the jury came back deadlocked on July 11. The judge said it was up to the jury, not himself, to decide the credibility of government witnesses.
"The government's evidence in support of the conspiracy count was clear and uncontroverted, and, at least according to someone on the jury, also not believable," Conmy wrote.
The government filed a motion earlier this week to dismiss the case.
"The United States has since reviewed the available evidence and does not currently intent to retry the matter at this time," the motion read. "Investigation of the matter continues and new, or as of yet undiscovered, evidence may be secured in the near future."