A former used-car salesman was sentenced Thursday in Ramsey County District Court to five years of probation for felony theft.

Vahid Sedaghat, 53, was given credit for 17 days in jail and won't have to serve any more time, but must pay restitution of more than $20,644 to U.S. Oil Co., based in Combined Locks, Wis. That company mistakenly sent a check to Sedaghat's company in Little Canada, which he then cashed. The check was meant for a company with a similar name in Kentucky.

He also had been charged with five felony counts of theft by swindle and one of receiving stolen property for allegedly selling defective vehicles to unwitting customers, often immigrants with limited English proficiency.

Sedaghat entered an Alford plea on March 2 to one count of felony theft in connection with the oil company's check. An Alford plea means a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes that there is enough evidence to find him guilty.

The remaining charges were dismissed by District Judge Rosanne Nathanson at Thursday's hearing. In return for the plea, prosecutors agreed to not file charges in two other cases.

PAT PHEIFER

High court rejects convicted murderer's appeal

The Minnesota Supreme Court again affirmed the murder and manslaughter convictions of Michael Charles Stewart. He was found guilty in 1999 in Ramsey County District Court of first- and second-degree murder in the stabbing of his 2-year-old son, Jereau, and of two counts of first-degree manslaughter in the death of his ex-girlfriend, Amanda Carlson-Bey, and her fetus.

In his latest appeal, Stewart argued that the offenses for which he was convicted "do not have all constitutionally-required components ... and are therefore invalid laws," according to the high court's ruling Thursday. A lower court denied his appeal, finding that it was untimely and without merit. The high court affirmed that ruling without hearing oral arguments.

PAT PHEIFER