FARGO -- A Grand Forks man was sentenced Monday to 15 years in federal prison for his admitted role in a wide-ranging drug conspiracy ring centered on Noah Bergland, of East Grand Forks.

Brian Briggs, 36, made a tearful statement to U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson and asked for mercy and "another option besides prison."

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"I do have potential," Briggs said. At least, he should get some time before turning himself in because he and his wife are trying to get pregnant and "this might be our last chance," he said.

His wife also made a statement in court, asking that Briggs' sentence be short.

Prosecutors argued he should be sentenced to 16 years in the plea deal, only four years less than the mandatory minimum sentence he faced, because he lied to an investigator about text messages he sent that hurt his credibility as a witness against others in the case.

Briggs denied sending the text messages to the investigator and said the case against him seemed unfair because "they never caught me red-handed."

His attorney, Jade Rosenfeldt, asked for a sentence of 12.5 years, saying he had cooperated with prosecutors and had turned his life around.

Noah Bergland, 26, East Grand Forks, pleaded guilty this summer to heading a drug ring that brought heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana from the Twin Cities to Grand Forks and distributed it across North Dakota and Minnesota. He and Briggs also were charged with money laundering and using wire transfers of money in the operation that so far has led to about 20 people being indicted.

Prosecutors say Bergland made at least $250,000 in the drug operation.

Call Lee at (701) 780-1237; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1237; or send email to slee@gfherald.com.