JAILGATE: Timeline

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Oct. 3, 2014 – Dustin Irwin, 25, Mandaree, is arrested for driving under suspension and outstanding warrants out of Grand Forks and Burleigh counties and booked into the Ward County Jail.

Oct. 6, 2014 – Irwin dies shortly after a prisoner exchange with Burleigh County.

Oct. 24, 2014 – Ward County Sheriff Steve Kukowki receives an order from ND Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation to reduce the jail population to within its 104-bed capacity. Inmate counts had exceeded 150.

Dec. 19, 2014 – Ward County is served with an order of noncompliance following a Department of Corrections investigation that found care at the Ward County jail “grossly inadequate.” A full-time Department of Corrections monitor is assigned to the jail.

June 23, 2015 – The Ward County Commission appoints James Vukelic, a former judge in the South Central Judicial District and past state’s attorney, as special prosecutor in an investigation involving the Ward County Jail.

Dec. 21, 2015 -Irwin’s estate is granted a financial settlement in a claim of wrongful death in the amount of $230,000 to be paid by the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund, insurance carrier for sheriff’s departments in the state.

Jan. 19, 2016 – Findings of both state and county investigations into the operation of the Ward County Jail are in the hands of independent prosecutor, Divide County State’s Attorney Seymour Jordan, who replaced James Vukelic after Vukelic stepped down.

Feb. 18, 2016 – Sheriff Steve Kukowski is charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of public servant refusing to perform duty. Ward County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Michael Nason is charged with reckless endangerment.

Feb. 19, 2016 – Northeast Central District Judge Lolita G. Hartle Romanick, Grand Forks, receives a North Dakota Supreme Court assignment to hear charges against Sheriff Steve Kukowski.

June 2016 – Major Robert Barnard is named interim sheriff by Ward County Commissioners following the suspension of Sheriff Steve Kukowski by Gov. Jack Dalrymple.

July 2016 – Reckless endangerment charges against retired Ward County Deputy Captain Michael Nason are dismissed in North Central District Court in Minot. Nason had earlier resigned from his duties with the Ward County Sheriff’s Department.

March 30, 2017 – A July 10, 2017, trial is set for Sheriff Steve Kukowski. The date was set following a hearing in front of Judge Lolita Romanick in Grand Forks in which Kukowski testified.

April 11, 2017 – Sheriff Steve Kukowski submits his resignation to Ward County Commissioners in exchange for a payment of $75,000 and a promise not to sue the county. Behind closed doors, Ward County Commissioners accept the terms of Kukowski’s resignation after special prosecutor Seymour Jordan says he will drop all charges against Kukowski if he resigns.

April 15, 2017 – Sheriff Steve Kukowski’s resignation becomes effective.

April 17, 2017 – Scheduled start of the civil trial regarding the possible permanent removal of Sheriff Steve Kukowski from office. Civil trial is moot because of resignation.

May 1, 2017 – Judge Lolita Romanick signs off on a request from prosecutor Seymour Jordan to dismiss charges against Sheriff Steve Kukowski.

July 10, 2017 – Scheduled start of criminal trial against Sheriff Steve Kukowski. Trial is canceled due to dismissal of charges.

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