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84-year-old driver won’t face charges in string of convenience store robberies

By Emily Welker / The Forum - FARGO – The 84-year-old man named as the getaway driver in a string of convenience store robberies in January won’t face criminal charges, officials in the Cass and Clay County prosecutor’s offices said Monday.

Cass County prosecutor Tanya Martinez said she couldn’t prove that Einar Swanson knew at the first stop what 25-year-old Abdi Abdullahi was doing.

That first stop was an M&H convenience store at 16th Street and Main Avenue in Fargo, the first of five stores hit by Abdullahi in a back-to-back spree that ran between Fargo and Moorhead.

Abdullahi pleaded guilty on Feb. 28 in Cass County District Court to a single count of felony theft in exchange for a suspended sentence.

Clay County prosecutor Lori Conroy said she couldn’t comment on the case because it is still pending, other than to say the decision to decline charges was based upon prosecutorial discretion.

Abdullahi is charged in Clay County District Court with one count of gross misdemeanor theft and one count of misdemeanor attempted theft.

Court documents released by the Cass County state’s attorney shed light on what led Swanson to continue driving from store to store at Abdullahi’s request. Swanson told police he didn’t know Abdullahi until that day.

Swanson originally said he saw Abdullahi on the street and offered to give him a ride, and then agreed to stop for candy, cigarettes and other items. Swanson said he didn’t realize during the whole trip that Abdullahi was grabbing money out of store tills at each store until the pair were pulled over by police near Abdullahi’s apartment in Moorhead.

Police reports in the court file state that Swanson admitted he met Abdullahi in the Romantix bookstore on NP Avenue in downtown Fargo, a store that sells adult entertainment items.

Swanson told police that after a conversation with Abdullahi, he agreed to give him a ride, believing he and Abdullahi were going to Abdullahi’s apartment to share a sexual encounter.

Swanson told police that when a clerk followed Abdullahi as Abdullahi left the M&H store, Swanson “thought this was odd, but thought maybe she was into him and was just following him. He now realizes that it was likely she was following him because he had taken the money from the store.”

Swanson said Abdullahi directed him from store to store after the first stop at M&H. Swanson would wait in the car until Abdullahi came out. He noticed Abdullahi smelled of alcohol, and said Abdullahi fell down at least once.