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Cost of cornfield manhunt near Tower City roughly $55,000

Cornfield manhunt

FARGO - Local law enforcement agencies spent roughly $55,000 on the 22-hour manhunt earlier this week for the sex offender who escaped from a private prison transport van near Tower City.

And after speaking this morning with the owner of Extradition Transport of America LLC, Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said the public safety agencies that were involved in the search believe they'll get paid for those costs.

"We didn't receive any excuses or explanations," Laney said. "He very much calmed our fears."

Officials from the sheriff departments in Barnes and Cass counties and the state Highway Patrol conducted an 11 a.m. conference call with Bill Taylor, the owner of Extradition Transport. During the conversation, Taylor agreed the firm's insurance should cover expenses racked up in the search, Laney said.

Nearly 60 officers joined the search authorities say was prompted by 29-year-old Joseph Megna escaping an unlocked cage in the back of a transport van at a rest area on Interstate 94.

Laney said the seven law enforcement agencies participating in the search are calculating the precise costs to forward to Barnes County Chief Deputy Don Fiebiger, who will handle the insurance claim.

Taylor also indicated in the conference call that he would launch an internal investigation of the escape, Laney said.

Laney said federal prosecutors in Fargo have said they are researching possible administrative penalties against the company under the Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals Act of 2000, also known as Jeanna's Act in reference to 11-year-old Jeanna North of Fargo, who was murdered in 1993 by Kyle Bell. The law was prompted by Bell's escape in 1999 from a private prison transport firm.

For the full story, read The Forum on Saturday.