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Published: Wednesday, 2/25/2009

Former Ohio workers compensation executive gets deferred sentence

ASSOCIATED PRESS

BISMARCK, N.D. North Dakota's former workers compensation director has received a two-year deferred sentence with no jail time and a $2,000 fine for misspending public money.

The deferred sentence means Sandy Blunt's record will be cleared if he breaks no laws over the two-year period.

Blunt declined comment after he was sentenced Thursday but his attorney, Michael Hoffman, said, "it's what we asked for."

South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick ordered the 44-year-old Blunt to perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay $2,000 in fines and $775 in court fees. The judge did not order restitution.

Romanick said the 1,000 hours of community service was the most he had ever handed out.

"I don't have a problem with that and Sandy doesn't have a problem with that," Hoffman said.

A Bismarck jury last December found Blunt guilty of misspending more than $26,000 in Workforce Safety and Insurance agency funds. The unauthorized expenses included $4,331 for employee gift certificates, $7,053 for meeting costs, $7,617 in moving expenses for a WSI executive and $7,053 in sick leave payments for the same executive.

Workforce Safety and Insurance provides medical, rehabilitation and wage benefits to workers who are injured on the job. The agency has more than 230 employees and a two-year budget of $53.2 million.

Blunt, a former Ohio workers compensation executive, was hired as WSI's chief executive officer in April 2004. He was forced out as WSI director in December 2007, after nearly four years on the job.

The criminal case against Blunt followed an October 2006 state audit that questioned WSI spending and management practices.

Hoffman said Blunt will appeal his conviction. He said Blunt has been unemployed except for some consulting work.

"He's been looking for work," the attorney said.



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