PIERRE, S.D. – (DRG News) A husband and wife from Fargo, North Dakota have both pleaded not guilty to charges that include two counts of Grand Theft by Deception and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft by Deception. 45-year-old George Donald Nelson III and 44-year-old Karla Ann Nelson were each indicted on the charges. Allegations are that the Nelsons sold agricultural buildings and started construction on the buildings; but the structures were not completed or were of interior quality Authorities also say they did not deliver all the materials for the building that were paid for and they failed to pay vendors who supplied the materials. They were arraigned in a Pierre courtroom Tuesday.
The South Dakota Attorney General’s Office has said the Nelsons operated a business in South Dakota and are believed to have used names that include Baron Buildings, L.L.C., Baron Steel Buildings, Steel Baron Buildings, Steel Buildings of Georgia and Ag Pro Buildings/Fargo.
An investigator says in probable cause affidavit filed in the case that it appears the Nelsons go from state to state setting up various business entities. States listed include Georgia,Tennessee,Ohio,Minnesota and South Dakota. Among other things, the official says it appears the Nelsons received down payments for various projects, provided minimal labor and materials; and haven’t paid subcontractors-which has resulted in mechanic liens for their customers.
The Nelsons are both being held without bond. A status hearing will be held in their cases April 16.
Grand Theft by Deception is a Class 4 Felony which carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both. Conspiracy to Commit Grand Theft is a Class 5 Felony and the maximum sentence is five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. Paperwork filed in George Nelson’s case alleges that he has a previous felony conviction from 1997 in Minnesota. If he is found guilty of charges in the indictment and the 1997 felony is proven; that could elevate the maximum punishment he would face at sentencing.
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