Motion to dismiss filed in Eckberg case

A recent defense motion called for a dismissal of all 10 charges against David Eckberg in connection with the Lumberjack Days incident in July 2011.

The 10 felony charges Eckberg faces include five counts of theft by check and five counts of issuing dishonored checks. The checks in question were written to a music production company, beer companies and the Stillwater Blue Line Boosters for the hockey team.

Since the incident in 2011, Stillwater has not had a summer festival due to the allegations of fraud. In the wake of the issue a moratorium on events was declared until recently, when the city council began taking festival proposals. The council could name an event planning successor as early as next week. Eckberg himself has since filed personal bankruptcy in 2011 after his business failed when he was unable to find private investors.

In the motion to dismiss request, Eckberg’s attorney, Eric Thole, states that his client had extended credit agreements with the individuals due to the fact that they performed their services without getting paid up front. He added that the issuance of the check was “symbolic” of the agreement made between Eckberg and the parties to pay off his debts.

“Issuing a bad check to pay a debt owed is no different from telling the creditor you cannot pay them,” Thole wrote.

Thole cited past consideration in which creditors offer goods and services before getting paid.

“There is nothing criminal about issuing a check that no one relied upon when the check was issued,” he wrote. “If one obtains something from another by a promise to later pay but is unable to pay, what difference does it make about the way they promised payment? Promises to pay by check cannot obtain higher legal status than promises to pay by cash.”

Prosecutor Richard Hodsdon took issue with this argument.

“Under the defense theory when an individual goes to Cub Food and purchases groceries, bags them and before leaving writes a check and walks out the door, should the check later prove to be dishonored the defendant could not be prosecuted because he obtained the groceries before he issued the check,” Hodsdon wrote. “Similarly if a plumber were to come to a person’s house, fix a toilet and then be given a check before leaving the premises, should the check be worthless, no crime would have been committed by the issuer because the plumber did the work before receiving the check. There is utterly no precedent in case law or even under common law contract law to sustain such a view and this Court should not create one.”

He went on to state that evidence shows that Eckberg intended to defraud his victims saying that Eckberg had been deceptive and duplicitous by diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars for other purposes, including personal use rather than paying his financial debts to the victims of  his crime.

“The false representations include not only the check but the numerous promises which the defendant has submitted in support of argument to dismiss,” Hodson wrote. “Promises made after the checks were issued as the defendant continued for several months to effectively continue to defraud his victims with promise of ultimate payment.”

A trial date is set for Oct. 28.

Contact Avery Cropp at avery.cropp@ecm-inc.com

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