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Student found dead last June quit working as confidential informant shortly before disappearing

WAHPETON, N.D. -- A North Dakota State College of Science student whose body was found in the Red River last June quit working as a confidential informant for an anti-drug task force shortly before he disappeared, according to a report issued by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The report, written by a three-member outside review board commissioned by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, sheds new light on the cryptic circumstances of Andrew Sadek’s final months alive, detailing how he was used by the Southeast Multi-County Agency Drug Task Force to ensnare local pot dealers as part of a deal to reduce the criminal charges against him.

Tammy Sadek, Andrew’s mother, asked Stenehjem in August for an outside review of the agency, known as SEMCA, and has said it bullied her son and pressured him to work as an informant.

In its report, the review board concluded it “did not have any concerns with the case files where Sadek was a CI” – an acronym for confidential informant. But it also recommended that SEMCA agents hold a meeting and write a brief prior to any operation, designate an agency supervisor and add a BCI agent to its team.

The 11-member board of law enforcement and county officials overseeing SEMCA – which covers North Dakota’s Richland, Random and Sargent counties and Minnesota’s Wilkin County – voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt the four recommendations, Wahpeton Police Chief Scott Thorsteinson said.

“SEMCA conducts themselves appropriately,” he said. “I was gratified to see an independent review indicate exactly that.”

The report details the SEMCA investigation that led to Sadek. SEMCA arranged for a confidential informant to buy a total of $80 worth of pot from Sadek on two occasions in April 2013 on campus.

The deals constituted Class A felonies, each carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison because they took place in a school zone, Richland County Assistant State’s Attorney Megan Kummer said.

In November 2013, SEMCA searched Sadek’s dorm room and found a plastic grinder with marijuana residue, which Sadek admitted to using, the report said. The next day, Sadek showed up at the Law Enforcement Center in Wahpeton for a recorded interview with SEMCA.

The marijuana-related charges he would face were explained to him, the report said, and he decided to become a confidential informant in order to reduce or eliminate the charges.

“The recorded interview was calm in nature and Sadek understood the situation,” the review board found.

Sadek began working for the agency later that month, buying weed one-eighth ounce at a time for $60 on the NDSCS campus. At SEMCA’s direction, he bought marijuana three times from two different dealers from November 2013 to January 2014.

By then, Sadek had still not done enough deals to erase the charges against him, the report said, but he stopped communicating with SEMCA. An agent tried contacting Sadek but didn’t hear back, the report said, even though Sadek still had to buy pot from two people “to fulfill his obligation in resolving the charges he had been facing.”

That prompted SEMCA to refer Sadek’s drug charges to county prosecutors, Thorsteinson said. Sadek was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor May 9, a week after he was reported missing.

Tammy Sadek has said she believes her son, who was found on June 27 with a gunshot wound to the head in the Red River near Breckenridge, Minn., was murdered. She could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Asked whether confidential informants are put in harm’s way, Thorsteinson acknowledged they are working in “a dangerous subculture.”

But he could not recall the last time in all the years he has been in Wahpeton that an informant faced serious violence. Anti-drug agents generally “bend over backwards to protect their CI,” he said.

 
Adrian Glass-Moore

Readers are encouraged to reach Adrian Glass-Moore at (701) 241-5599 or aglassmoore@forumcomm.com with comments, criticisms and tips. He joined The Forum as its night reporter in 2014.

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