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Port: Defense attorney says tax commissioner paid higher than normal level of fines

North Dakota Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger announces his campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination for North Dakota Tax Commissioner office on Wednesday, Feb.5, 2014, at the Fargo Holiday Inn. David Samson / The Forum

Any time a public official is involved in a criminal action before the courts, and gets a plea deal, it’s natural to wonder if there was any special treatment involved.

Today Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger pleaded guilty to charges stemming from an arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol last month, and I’m sure some are wondering if his political connections were a factor in his punishment. After all, there is a two-day mandatory jail sentence for people found guilty of a DUI charge with Rauschenberger’s level of recorded blood alcohol content, but the plea deal signed with the prosecutor doesn’t include jail time.

I asked Mark Friese, a Fargo-based defense attorney for the Vogel Law Firm who was also a police officer in Bismarck earlier in his career, about the deal. He says it’s not out of the normal, and that Rauschenberger actually paid a higher than normal amount in fines.

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