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County, deputy seek to silence parents in lawsuit over death of Andrew Sadek

Tammy and John Sadek, left, listen as their attorney, Lance Block, talks about the family's efforts to get updates from angencies investigating the death of their son, Andrew. Dave Olson/The Forum

WAHPETON, N.D. — Looking to stave off leaks to the news media, an attorney is seeking a judge's order to prohibit the public release of information from a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the parents of Andrew Sadek, an undercover police informant found dead in 2014.

The order would forbid the disclosure of any information obtained during discovery, the pretrial process through which parties share evidence. A hearing on the matter is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4, in the Valley City courtroom of North Dakota District Court Judge Jay Schmitz.

The order was requested by Corey Quinton, an attorney for Richland County and Sheriff's Deputy Jason Weber, who recruited 20-year-old Sadek to work as an informant. In a brief filed in Richland County District Court, Quinton said the order is needed to prevent leaks to the media that could taint the jury pool. He cited news stories and interviews in which Sadek's parents, John and Tammy, "repeatedly made assumptions about the facts of this case and made pointed accusations against" the county and Weber.

Among the public statements Quinton quoted in his brief was one by Tammy Sadek who said of her son, "He was bullied, I can't think of another word, other than bullied, into becoming a CI (confidential informant)."

An attorney for Sadek's parents, Timothy O'Keeffe, filed a brief in response saying that his clients have not disclosed any information with the hope of gaining an upper hand in the case or with the intent of harming the county and Weber.

O'Keeffe wrote that the Sadeks have spoken to the media to encourage others to seek legal advice before acting as informants, to foster support for proposed North Dakota legislation that would protect informants' rights and to possibly find answers to questions surrounding their son's death.

Andrew Sadek, a student at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, was allegedly caught twice selling marijuana, a total of 3.3 grams, to an informant on campus in April 2013. With the threat of two felonies hanging over him, Sadek agreed to become an informant for the local drug task force to get his potential charges reduced or dropped.

Sadek completed a few drug buys, but with more drug deals left to carry out, he stopped contacting the task force. He was last seen leaving his dormitory early May 1, 2014, and a search for him ended June 27, 2014, when his body was found in the Red River near Wahpeton.

There was a gunshot wound to his head from a gun that has not been found. Autopsy results were inconclusive, but his parents believe their son was murdered, possibly because of his work as an informant.

John and Tammy Sadek filed the wrongful death suit in June 2016. Attempts to reach them by phone and through Facebook were unsuccessful Tuesday, Jan. 3.

In his court brief, Quinton wrote that the disclosure of discovery information from the suit could hinder the law enforcement agencies still investigating Andrew Sadek's death.

O'Keeffe's response acknowledged that a judge's order may be warranted to keep certain sensitive information under wraps, but he argued that a blanket order like the one being requested is unnecessary.