Pella man receives five-year suspended prison sentence

Scott Berning, 36, of Pella received a five-year suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to extortion, a class D felony, in Buena Vista District Court on Aug. 4. Berning was placed on probation with the Iowa Judicial District Department of Correctional Services for two years.

Berning was originally charged with false reports to public safety entities, extortion and theft after falsifying reports of stolen property to King’s Pointe Resort management and to the Storm Lake Police Department.

In Dec. 2013, Berning filed a complaint with King’s Pointe management that his laptop had been stolen from his room, claiming that the lock on the door was ineffective. Upon investigation by Detective Patrick Diekman, he uncovered that there was never a laptop in Berning’s room and that Berning had fabricated the entire story in an attempt to receive a free stay at King’s Ponte Resort.

Detective Diekman had uncovered a series of complaints that Berning had filed with several other resorts in Iowa and surrounding states. Each complaint was accompanied with the request to receive a discounted rate on the hotel room.

Andy Smith of Storm Lake represented the defendant. The State of Iowa appeared by Paul Allen, Assistant Buena Vista County Attorney. Judge Duffy presided over the sentencing hearing.