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Former N.D. sheriff may change plea on meth, bribery charges

FESSENDEN, N.D.—A change of plea hearing in the case against former Wells County Sheriff Johnny Lawson is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Oct. 26, in Fessenden.

Lawson, 41, Fessenden, is charged with felony conspiracy to deliver meth and felony bribery-unlawful influence of public servants. He is also charged with three Class A misdemeanors: false reports to law enforcement or other security officials, public servant refusing to perform duty and ingesting meth.

He had pleaded not guilty to three misdemeanor charges, but has not entered a plea on the two felony charges. He is free on bond.

Lawson's attorney Peter Welte said Thursday that he had no comment about change of plea hearing or on the case in general.

"Our position is that the case needs to be heard in court," he said. "We're definitely looking forward to presenting our side in court."

Before he resigned as Wells County sheriff on April 25, Lawson allegedly consumed meth provided by Alexander Lail, 47, New Rockford, according to court documents. Lawson allegedly received the drug in exchange for not investigating burglaries and break-ins of residences around that may have been done by Lail or some of his associates.

Lail is facing two Class A felony charges: delivery of meth and conspiracy to deliver meth. He is facing four Class C felony charges: maintaining a dwelling for using controlled substance, bribery-unlawful influence of public servants, possession of meth and aggravated assault-domestic violence. Lail is also charged with ingesting meth, a Class A misdemeanor.

Lail's preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 18 at the Wells County Courthouse on his case and three other cases that are possibly related to the Lawson case, according to court documents. On May 10 Lail was charged with two counts of attempted murder, Class A felonies. He allegedly burned the inside right leg of Jason Thomas, 55, Harvey, with an ice auger. Court documents state that Thomas suffered permanent loss or impairment of a function of bodily member or organ and was in hospice at risk to die after suffering a cardiac arrest. Thomas died at his home on April 28.

On April 26 Lail was charged with criminal conspiracy, a Class A felony, and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, a Class B felony, according to court documents. He was also charged with interception of wire or oral communications-eavesdropping, a Class C felony, and stalking, a Class A misdemeanor, on April 25.

Chris Olson

Hometown: Traverse City, MI College: Northwestern Michigan College and Michigan State University

(701) 952-8454