A Grand Forks woman was sentenced Friday in federal court for her role in a fentanyl overdose death. Her sister was also sentenced last week on similar charges.
Kelly Jo Nelsrud, 41, will spend 12 1/2 years in prison for two counts of aiding and abetting the distribution of a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury and death. A charge for conspiracy to sell the drugs was dismissed.
Nelsrud was initially charged in Grand Forks County District Court along with her sister, Holly Dawn Soeby, and brother-in-law, Joshua David Soeby. The charges were elevated into federal court in May.
Grand Forks County court documents said officers were called Jan. 17, 2018 to 5915 Wydown St. on a reported overdose. First responders found 27-year-old Max Johnson dead in the home's upstairs bathroom. There was a fentanyl patch with a burnt corner, a dollar bill with brown residue and a lighter found near him, an affidavit said.
The federal indictment reveals few details and only refers to the victim as "M.J."
Investigators were told by Johnson's girlfriend that he may have purchased the fentanyl patch from Joshua and Holly Soeby. Both Soebys were on probation for drug-related convictions from 2017. Officers searched their home and interviewed 38-year-old Holly Soeby, the affidavit said.
Holly Soeby said she bought the patch from Nelsrud and sold it to Johnson the morning he died. The affidavit said she warned him to "be careful, the patch is strong and he has a beautiful girlfriend and kids he needs to worry about."
Joshua Soeby, 40, helped arrange to sell the drugs to Johnson, a court document said.
Officers searched Nelsrud's house after obtaining a warrant and found numerous fentanyl patches, the affidavit said. She denied all allegations at the time and said her sister stole the drugs.
Nelsrud pleaded guilty in February. She will spend three years on probation after release from prison and is ordered to pay over $16,000 in restitution with the Soebys to Johnson's family.
Holly Soeby was sentenced to spend 14 years in prison. Joshua Soeby pleaded guilty in March and is scheduled for sentencing June 13.