North Dakota is appealing a judge's order that a state Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent and state attorney general pay back a man after the agent confiscated his pay loader and failed to return it as ordered.

North Dakota is appealing a judge's order that a state Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent and state attorney general pay back a man after the agent confiscated his pay loader and failed to return it as ordered.

Agent Arnie Rummel took possession of the loader in May from Forbes resident Darrell Schrum after an investigation determined the equipment was stolen. Schrum told authorities he didn't know about the theft and bought the loader in good faith.

Southeast District Judge Daniel Narum told Rummel to return the loader and declared the agent in contempt of court when he failed to meet a June deadline. Narum has ordered the Rummel and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem to pay Schrum nearly $54,000 by the end of this month.

Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Byers last week asked a judge to delay the order until the appeal is heard by the North Dakota Supreme Court. Byers said it's a unique case and the issue is not clearly defined by law.

Schrum's attorney, Mark Friese, said in court documents that he doesn't believe the "controlling legal principles are unsettled" and the delay would result in an additional $10,000 in fees and court costs. Friese said Rummel "disobeyed multiple orders" by the judge.

Stenehjem told The Associated Press that authorities seize stolen property "all the time" and Rummel did nothing wrong.

"All he did was return a pay loader that was stolen to the rightful owner," Stenehjem said. "That's what he did."

Friese told the AP that Rummel gave the loader to a trucking company that had no ownership interest in the equipment.

"The search warrant was clear. It required Rummel to deliver the loader to the court, not give it away," Friese said. "Agents injected themselves into the middle of a civil dispute, and in so doing, they hurt an innocent North Dakota resident."