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Strandquist man charged in business swindles

A Strandquist, Minn., man is accused of stealing more than $70,000 worth of goods through fraudulent business deals in Minnesota and North Dakota.

Jesse West, 28, made initial court appearances Tuesday on charges in Marshall County, Minn., and Grand Forks County.

According to a criminal complaint, West sold a tractor and a loader to a man from Wisconsin for $14,000 in December 2008.

It turned out that West had mortgaged the two pieces of equipment and had not completely paid for them before he sold them, so a company repossessed them from the buyer in Wisconsin, the complaint says.

As a result, West was charged with two counts of felony theft in Marshall County, Minn. He pleaded not guilty to those charges Tuesday.

The Grand Forks County case stems from West's purchase of a trailer containing spray-foam insulation equipment from a man in Grand Forks in December, according to a police report.

To make the purchase, West borrowed about $60,000 from U.S. Bank, and the seller cosigned the loan, said Detective Mike Flannery of the Grand Forks Police Department.

Authorities said West had paid off only some of the loan before he sold the equipment in the trailer to someone in Canada. The seller in Grand Forks was able to recover the trailer, Flannery said.

In that case, West faces a felony charge of defrauding a secured creditor. He posted $2,500 in bail Tuesday to be released from the county jail.

Attorney Tom Omdahl, who is representing West in both states, declined to comment on the cases but noted that West does not have a criminal history.

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