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Published February 29, 2012, 12:48 PM

2nd Grand Forks Man Pleads Guilty in Drug Conspiracy

Admits to several Red River Valley pharmacy burglaries
FARGO – A second Grand Forks man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court here to stealing thousands of prescription painkillers from pharmacies in the Red River Valley and distributing them in North Dakota and Minnesota.

By: Mike Nowatzki, Forum Communications

FARGO – A second Grand Forks man pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court here to stealing thousands of prescription painkillers from pharmacies in the Red River Valley and distributing them in North Dakota and Minnesota.

James Vernon Hensrud, 21, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burglarize a pharmacy and conspiracy to possess and distribute a controlled substance, following identical pleas by 28-year-old Joshua Ray Fonder last week.

The two men and an unspecified number of others conspired to steal and distribute oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and other drugs, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers said.

Appearing before Judge Ralph Erickson in U.S. District Court, Hensrud admitted to committing several burglaries with Fonder and other co-conspirators, starting with Paul Bilden Pharmacy in Northwood on Sept. 30.

In October, Hensrud raided Wheaton (Minn.) Drug, Skip’s Budget Drug and Compass Delivery Systems in Grand Forks; Drayton Drug and Thrifty Drug in Karlstad, Minn.; and Pamida Pharmacy in East Grand Forks, Minn., Myers said.

Authorities caught Hensrud after a janitor interrupted him burglarizing Grand Forks Family Medicine on Nov. 1, Myers said.

Charges filed against Hensrud in Grand Forks County in connection with the Nov. 1 break-in are expected to be dismissed in light of the plea agreement with prosecutors approved Tuesday, his attorney said.

Sentencing for Hensrud and Fonder is set for May 30. Each faces a total of up to 30 years in prison.

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