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‘Minor mishaps, disagreements’ comprise sheriff’s removal case

Posted 8/01/17 (Tue)

By Jack Dura
Farmer Staff Writer

As McKenzie County awaits Gov. Doug Burgum’s ruling on Sheriff Gary Schwartzenberger’s fate in office, findings from the special commissioner in the case report no substantive grounds for unseating the suspended sheriff.
Special commissioner Karen Klein recommended Burgum dismiss the removal complaint, terminate Schwartzenberger’s suspension and restore him to office. As of Monday, one week after Klein’s recommendation, Burgum had yet to rule.
In her report, Klein zeroed in on each of the alleged offenses against Schwartzenberger, all of which she said had insufficient or unjustified evidence for removal, “a rare and drastic event.”
Offenses included disparate discipline of female employees, workplace intimidation and Schwartzenberger’s criminal charge related to alleged impropriety with a county credit card.
Schwartzenberger’s disputed expenditures at a Las Vegas sheriffs’ convention in March 2015 were a large part of his three-hour testimony.  Former McKenzie County Auditor/Treasurer Linda Svihovec testified the county spent no money on his charges which he did eventually pay back.
“Although the charges were personal in nature, no explanation of a county policy prohibiting such use of the credit card was provided to Mr. Schwartzenberger until after the fact,” Klein wrote in part.

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