West Fargo contractor faces deportation for thefts
A West Fargo contractor who admitted late last year to stealing materials from other firms' building sites could be deported.
At a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, an attorney for Peter Spacek argued for a sentence of less than a year in hopes of avoiding a deportation. A theft-related conviction with a sentence of a year or more can be grounds for being deported.
"It's the breakup of my client's family we're concerned about," said Jesse Lange, Spacek's lawyer.
Lange said Spacek, a legal U.S. resident but not a citizen, came 26 years ago from Czechoslovakia. Since Czechoslovakia no longer exists, Spacek could be "shopped around until a country will take him" if he's deported, Lange said.
Cherie Clark, an assistant Cass County state's attorney, recommended a three-year prison term. The value of the tools and other materials stolen was about $500,000, enough to fill a semitrailer, she said.
Cass County District Court Judge Georgia Dawson delayed the sentencing and asked the defense and prosecution to provide written briefs so she can study the sentencing's immigration implications.
The attorneys will have 10 days to file briefs, after which a sentencing hearing will be reset.Spacek, 42, pleaded guilty on Dec. 21 to one count of racketeering in a plea deal. In exchange, theft charges will be dismissed in Cass and Richland counties.
Clark said she believes it is the first-ever racketeering charge in state court in North Dakota.
Lange said during the hearing Tuesday that Spacek may suffer from a mental illness that leads him to irrational hoarding and said much of what Spacek stole wasn't ever used.
Two victims testified at the hearing, one of whom was Harry Gilbertson, a fellow local contractor.
"I kind of feel almost silly not knowing what was going on," Gilbertson said.
"The only thing I can say is I'm sorry," Spacek said in a tearful statement on his own behalf.
His wife, Jill Spacek, also urged leniency. She said though she felt betrayed by her husband at first, she took him back because he showed remorse and sought treatment.
Though the couple had no children together, Spacek has two children from a previous relationship and his wife has one child.
Clark said after the hearing that she doesn't plan to alter her sentencing recommendation. Because of a previous theft conviction, she said, federal law could subject Spacek to a deportation even if he was sentenced to less than a year.