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Fargo pastors plead guilty to drunken driving

Kris Gordon and Jeff Sandgren

Two pastors from Fargo's Olivet Lutheran Church arrested last month on charges of drunken driving pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Kristopher Gorden and Jeffery Sandgren admitted in Fargo Municipal Court to being intoxicated Jan. 13 when arrested by police.

Gorden slid into a snowbank as he tried to enter the eastbound on-ramp for Interstate 94 at 25th Street South. Sandgren, who was following him, stopped to help.

Both men were sentenced to $625 in fines and fees, the same amount of bail posted to get out of jail, as well as a 30-day suspended term in jail. They were also ordered go to a victim impact panel.

The pastors had already completed a chemical dependency evaluation that's also required, said defense attorney Bruce Quick, who represented both men in court.

Neither pastor received a diagnosis mandating any treatment, but they will be required to attend the 16-hour alcohol education class ordered in all first-time DUI cases, Quick said.

Fargo Municipal Court Judge Thomas Davies Davies said the sentences were standard for a first-time conviction for driving under the influence.

Quick said both of their driver's licenses will likely be suspended for 90 days, an administrative penalty not ordered by a judge.

Court records said both men failed a field sobriety test that measures involuntary eye movements.

Blood samples were taken from both men. Blood alcohol testing results on those samples weren't provided in court records. Quick said they pleaded guilty on the basis of the field sobriety tests, not the blood tests administered.

The admission Sandgren filed with the court stated that he registered a 0.11 blood alcohol level in an initial breath test at the scene.

The pastors declined to comment to The Forum the day of the arrests. In an Olivet worship service the following Sunday, both men apologized and admitted they made a mistake.

"We do realize in this calling we're also role models," Gorden said. "We're going to seek to do all we can to regain the trust that we've lost."