A Grand Forks woman will spend 14 years in federal prison for her role in a fentanyl overdose last January.

Holly Dawn Soeby, 38, pleaded guilty in July for conspiracy to possess and distribute controlled substances resulting in serious bodily injury. She was sentenced Wednesday. The maximum penalty was life and a $1 million fine.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Soeby was initially charged in Grand Forks County District Court along with her husband, 40-year-old Joshua David Soeby, and her sister, 41-year-old Kelly Jo Nelsrud. The charges were elevated into federal court in May.

Grand Forks County court documents said investigators were called to 5915 Wydown St. on Jan. 18, 2018, for a reported overdose. First-responders found 27-year-old Max Johnson dead, the documents said. There was a fentanyl patch with a burnt corner and a rolled dollar bill with brown residue found in his pocket, an affidavit said.

The federal indictment reveals few details and only refers to the overdose victim as "M.J."

Affidavits filed in county court said investigators were led to believe Johnson purchased the fentanyl patch from Holly Soeby. Investigators said text messages were found on her phone that arranged to sell Johnson the drugs the day before his death. She told officers she warned him to "be careful, the patch is strong and he has a beautiful girlfriend and kids he needs to worry about," the affidavit said.

Holly Soeby told investigators she purchased the drugs from her sister, the affidavit said. Investigators said they believe Johnson initially contacted Joshua Soeby for the fentanyl and he contacted his wife to drop it off.

Joshua Soeby pleaded guilty in March and is scheduled for sentencing June 13. Kelly Nelsrud appeared in court for sentencing Thursday, although a judgment was not immediately available.

Holly Soeby's criminal judgment said she will pay over $16,000 total in restitution with help from her husband and sister. She will be on probation for five years after she is released from prison.