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Man arrested for 'fish hooking' Grand Forks cab driver

GRAND FORKS - A 42-year-old Miltona, Minn., man was arrested early Sunday morning for threatening a Grand Forks cab driver and assaulting him with a head lock and "fish hook" in a dispute over a fare.

Ryan Dana Houfburg was charged with terrorizing, interference with an emergency call and simple assault in Grand Forks County District Court.

According to a court affidavit, police were dispatched to a 911 call hang up at 4270 University Ave., where they spoke to a cab driver named Jose Ochoa III.

Ochoa told police there was an argument over the fare and, when he tried to call 911, Houfburg put him in a headlock, took away his phone and hooked a finger in his cheek.

Houfburg admitted to police that he did fish-hook Ochoa and that he had been drinking. But he said Ochoa was calling him and his wife inappropriate names and was swearing when asking for the fare.

A review of the 911 tapes by police confirmed the threats as Houfburg used expletives and threatened Ochoa's life. Police said there was also a female voice on the tape saying "Dad, stop!" multiple times.

Terrorizing and interfering with a 911 call are Class C felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Simple assault is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Houfburg's next scheduled court appearance is March 21.