Seth Andrew Fontenot, 30, of Richard, Texas, pleaded guilty Jan. 19 in Beltrami County District Court before Judge Shari Schluchter to gross misdemeanor third-degree riot with unlawful force or violence.
The charge of felony third-degree assault causing substantial bodily harm was dismissed Dec. 16 because medical reports did not find "substantial bodily harm." A felony charge of first-degree burglary - assault a person in a building or on a property is scheduled to be dismissed at sentencing. His next court date will be Feb. 1.
On Nov. 2, a man was assaulted a bar in Northern Township. A preliminary investigation suggested that a disgruntled pipeline worker had arranged for another man to assault his former foreman, Fontenot's brother. Fontenot had fired the disgruntled man a week earlier. The man hired to assault Fontenot's brother assaulted the wrong man.
The man, now out of a job, was planning to leave Bemidji to return to his home in another state. Fontenot and other pipeliners feared that Beltrami Sheriff's Office would not complete the investigation of assault and bring the man to justice before he left Minnesota. They decided to take the administration of "justice" into their own hands. Fontenot and two other men went to the home of disgruntled worker at 8 p.m. Nov. 4 and attempted to gain entry. They were unsuccessful. They then called the owner of the house and demanded that he let them in or he would lose his job on the pipeline. The three were unsuccessful in intimidating the homeowner and left the scene. The men returned to the home in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, when they entered the home without permission and went to the basement where the man was asleep with his girlfriend. Fontenot and another man began to beat the man, while the other man restrained the girlfriend. The man was beaten severely, suffering a broken nose and a concussion. After Fontenot left, the girlfriend called the police. A Beltrami County Sheriff's deputy arrived on the scene and found the man bleeding profusely from the face and blood spatter on the carpet and walls of the room. The man identified all three of his assailants. The three men were located at their work sites on the pipeline. Fontenot denied having anything do with the assault; however, he had fresh wounds on the knuckles of his hands and blood smears on his shirt and boots. All three men were arrested and transported to the Beltrami County Jail.