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Hibbing man to serve 18 months after snowplow joyride ends on golf course

Shane Alan Simonson, 26, was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison after stealing a snowplow from the Bois Forte Indian Reservation and tearing up a golf course green at the Fortune Bay Casino in May 2013. U.S. Attorney's Office photo

A Hibbing man will serve 18 months in federal prison for stealing a large snow plow from the Bois Forte Indian Reservation and taking it for a joyride, ultimately crashing into a maintenance shed and tearing up a golf course green.

Shane Alan Simonson, 26, was sentenced Friday in U.S. District Court in Duluth. In addition to the prison time, Judge John Tunheim ordered Simonson to reimburse the band for the full cost of the damage he caused: $68,983.

Simonson admitted at a December plea hearing that he took a Band-owned snow plow truck without permission on May 9, 2013, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Simonson subsequently drove the plow into a maintenance shed, causing significant damage. He then damaged a parking lot barricade and gate, before tearing up the green of the 11th hole of the Fortune Bay Casino golf course.

Public defender Andrew Mohring noted in a document filed with the court that Simonson was “under the influence of a combination of powerful, mind-altering substances” at the time of the offense. Mohring noted that Simonson has successfully completed several drug programs since he was indicted, and asked for time served and supervised release rather than additional prison time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Katharine Buzicky asked for a 30-month sentence, arguing that Simonson “created an inherent risk to employees, guests, security officers and others at Fortune Bay Casino. In the process, he caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage to an important tribal business in northern Minnesota. The defendant’s crime lasted only a few moments, but its impact was felt for weeks and months afterwards.”

The incident was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bois Forte Police Department. Because the Bois Forte Indian Reservation is a federal jurisdiction reservation, crimes are prosecuted in federal court.

As part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, an additional charge of theft from gaming establishments on Indian lands was dismissed.