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North Dakota lawmaker accused of theft says he’s not guilty

October 9, 2021 GMT

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A state lawmaker from southeastern North Dakota who’s accused of misdemeanor theft in Bottineau County said Saturday he’s surprised by the charge and believes it’s fabricated.

Republican Sen. Jason Heitkamp, of Wahpeton, told The Associated Press he was in Bottineau earlier this week to retrieve some of his belongings from his former girlfriend and did not steal anything. He said he has been served with a summons but had not seen a copy of the complaint.

“I have literally not seen the charges or what I am being accused of so I can’t say much,” he said. “I’ll be open and honest with everybody but I don’t know what’s happening. I have no reason to steal anything because I have everything I need.”

The Bottineau County Courthouse was closed Saturday and the prosecutor listed on the complaint, Seymour Robert Jordan, did not return a phone message left by the AP.

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Heitkamp, 56, recently completed his first year in the North Dakota Legislature. He is a member of the judiciary and political subdivisions standing committees and the human services and water topics overview interim committees. He previously served on the Richland County Commission, Bottineau City Council and Prairie Rose City Council.

Heitkamp said he does not yet have an attorney. His first court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 2.

“I will be exonerated from it,” Heitkamp said. “I am not guilty. Just say it out.”