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Published October 19, 2012, 02:51 PM

Prosecutor: Drug Ring Member Beaten by Fellow Inmate in Grand Forks Jail

The East Grand Forks man who admitted in court to giving a friend a fatal dose of synthetic drugs was beaten up by a fellow inmate two weeks later in the Grand Forks County jail for talking with authorities, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

The East Grand Forks man who admitted in court to giving a friend a fatal dose of synthetic drugs was beaten up by a fellow inmate two weeks later in the Grand Forks County jail for talking with authorities, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.

Brandon Lee Turner, 22, a convicted sex offender, faces a felony charge of retaliating against a witness in the alleged beating of Adam Budge, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Shasky. Turner,arraigned Thursday in federal court in Fargo, pleaded not guilty.

The maximum sentence for the charge is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Turner is represented by federal public defender Chris Lancaster.

His alleged victim, Budge, 19,admitted Sept. 5 in federal court that he gave a drug-laced chocolate bar to Elijah Stai, 17, that led to Stai’s death in June.

Budge took a plea deal with prosecutors and discussed his involvement in a an alleged drug conspiracy based in Grand Forks that made and distributed synthetic hallucinogens.

Nine others have been charged in the federal case which prosecutors say led to two deaths, including that of Stai and Christian Bjerk, 18, in Grand Forks. Six, including Budge, have accepted plea deals.

It’s not clear what role Turner had, if any, in the drug case, based on what Shasky said.

But the federal grand jury that indicted Turner alleged he “caused bodily harm to (Budge) with the intent to retaliate against (Budge) for any truthful information provided to a law enforcement officer relating to the commission or possible commission of a federal drug trafficking offense.”

Budge and Turner were in the Grand Forks jail when the alleged beating took place Sept. 19.

Turner was transferred to the state prison in Bismarck soon after the alleged beating. He was sentenced in June to 30 months in prison for failing to register as a sex offender, a charge brought against him in 2009.

Budge also has been transferred to another jail in the region, still in federal custody while he awaits sentencing set for later this year.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Klein set Turner’s trial for Dec. 18, Shasky said.

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