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Published December 05, 2012, 09:36 PM

11th Person in Synthetic Drug Case Pleads Guilty

On Wednesday, Steven Bucher entered a guilty plea in federal court in Fargo to conspiring to distribute synthetic hallucinogens made by Andrew Spofford from January 2011 until this past June.

By: Stephen J. Lee, Grand Forks Herald

All 11 people charged so far in the federal synthetic drug case involving the deaths of two teens in Grand Forks have plead guilty.

On Wednesday, Steven Bucher entered a guilty plea in federal court in Fargo to conspiring to distribute synthetic hallucinogens made by Andrew Spofford from January 2011 until this past June.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson set Bucher’s sentencing for March 4. He will remain in a treatment center in Grand Forks until then, according to court documents.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers has charged 11 people in the case, saying the conspiracy led to the deaths of Christian Bjerk, 18, and Elijah Stai, 17, in June in Grand Forks and the hospitalization of a handful of other young people.

Spofford, in his guilty plea last month, admitted he mixed the hallucinogens from chemicals he ordered from overseas and distributed them through several associates.

Next week, the last of the group charged so far, Casey Rosen, 23, is scheduled to plead guilty.

Three of those charged already have been sentenced; a fourth is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Bucher faced a sentence of up to 20 years, but will receive a lesser sentence, partly because of his cooperation with the investigation.

Two others already sentenced for the same charge as Bucher faces have been sentenced to 27 months and to four years in federal prison, sentences that take into account a person’s previous criminal history.

Last week, Wesley Sweeney, 18, was sentenced to 12.5 years in the case. His sentence was longer than the other two because he was charged with drug distribution leading to the death of Bjerk.

Bucher, who is about 21, is a former UND student, like most of those charged in the case, including Spofford.

Myers says the investigation remains open.

Last week he told Judge Erickson that information garnered from those who have pled guilty has led to “sources outside” North Dakota and Minnesota.

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