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Published May 31, 2012, 06:07 PM

ND Auctioneer Licensed Despite Felony Convictions

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators took the rare step of granting an auction license to a Belcourt man with felony convictions for embezzlement and assault, saying they were impressed by his forthrightness and the support of a state senator.

By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators took the rare step of granting an auction license to a Belcourt man with felony convictions for embezzlement and assault, saying they were impressed by his forthrightness and the support of a state senator.

The state Public Service Commission initially rejected Douglas Delorme's application in April. Delorme requested a hearing, and the commissioners, after hearing from Delorme directly, said they were convinced he had been rehabilitated.

"It's a second chance, and I hope he uses it wisely, and I hope he has a successful career as an auctioneer," said Tony Clark, the commission's chairman.

Delorme said he had worked to earn people's confidence.

"I live my life every day to be trustworthy, and to work hard, so that I can give back to my community," Delorme said.

Sue Richter, the commission's licensing director, said Thursday the commission had not held a hearing on an auction license denial since 1990. North Dakota has 376 licensed auctioneers, who pay $35 for an annual license.

Commissioner Kevin Cramer said he was influenced by state Sen. Richard Marcellais, D-Belcourt, a former chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa tribe, who told the commissioners Delorme was deserving of a license.

Delorme also was able to obtain an auctioneer's bond, which is intended to provide backup financial protection for an auctioneer's customers, Cramer said.

"A bonding company saw him, looked at his record and decided he was worth the risk," he said. "That certainly speaks to their confidence."

In 2003, when Delorme was a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa's tribal council, he was sentenced to a year in prison for embezzlement and witness tampering, according to federal court records.

He was convicted of aggravated assault in 2007, court records say. Delorme was sentenced to 40 months in prison and ordered to pay about $4,000 in restitution.

Delorme said at the time of his embezzlement conviction, he was new to the tribal council and unfamiliar with "the way federal money could and couldn't be spent."

"This is one of the learning lessons that I encountered and deeply regretted," he said.

The assault conviction resulted from an altercation he had in the yard of his home, Delorme said. "I believed in protecting myself at home, but apparently the jury didn't believe so," he said.

Clark said the commission had to consider whether Delorme could be trusted as an auctioneer and whether he had taken steps to rehabilitate himself.

"If both of those questions are answered in the affirmative, then under the law, he should be licensed," Clark said.


Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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