Two Grand Forks sisters who have been accused of giving a man a fentanyl patch that caused his death are expected to plead guilty to federal charges.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Fargo filed cases against Holly Dawn Soeby, 37, and Kelly Jo Nelsrud, 40, on Monday. Each face a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance resulting in serious bodily injury to and the death of a person referred to as "M.J." on Jan. 17, according to charging documents filed in federal court.
M.J. likely is in reference to 27-year-old Max Johnson of Walhalla, N.D., who died of an overdose on Jan. 17 at a residence in south Grand Forks. Grand Forks County prosecutors said Soeby and Nelsrud supplied the fentanyl patch to Johnson that killed him.
The two sisters have not appeared in federal court, but they have signed plea agreements that were filed Tuesday. Both face up to life in prison and a minimum sentence of 20 years behind bars, but the plea agreements call for the possibility of a lesser sentence.
Each faces in Grand Forks District Court a Class B felony charge of delivery of fentanyl, which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.
Soeby admitted to investigators that she sold the fentanyl patch to Johnson and that she got it from her sister, Nelsrud, according to court documents filed in Grand Forks District Court. Nelsrud denied this, saying Soeby stole the patch from Nelsrud's home, according to court documents.
Soeby's husband, 39-year-old Joshua Soeby, faces a Class B felony charge of conspiracy to delivery of fentanyl in the case. Investigators had "probable cause to believe that Joshua Soeby contacted Holly Soeby to complete the sale of the fentanyl patch to Max Johnson," the charging documents said.
Joshua Soeby has not been charged in federal court.
The Grand Forks Court cases have been continued to July 19. No federal hearings had been set as of Thursday.