The case of North Dakota State College of Sciences student Andrew Sadek, who was working as a drug informant for state law enforcement at the time of his death, is going to be featured on 60 Minutes this Sunday.
You can bet that North Dakota politicos will be watching, because the Andrew Sadek case could have a big impact on the gubernatorial race.
For those of you who haven’t been following the case, in 2013 Sadek was caught dealing marijuana on the NDSCS campus. Law enforcement told him during an aggressive interrogation that he could be charged with a Class A Felony and put in jail for 40 years. They used the weight of that potential jail time as pressure to flip Sadek into a criminal informant.
Sadek agreed to work as a CI in exchange for leniency on his own charges. He made multiple drug buys in late 2013 and early 2014 as an informant before ultimately ending his cooperation with law enforcement. The cops felt Sadek needed to make at least two more buys before fulfilling his obligation to them. On May 1 of 2014 Sadek went missing. Law enforcement issued an arrest warrant for him, assuming that he had walked away from his obligations as a criminal information.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office has reviewed the Sadek case and found no wrongdoing by the task force. What’s more, Stenehjem has said that he opposes the sort of legislation the Sadeks are proposing. And Stenehjem, I don’t need to remind you readers, is running for governor.[/mks_pullquote]
Sadek’s body was found on June 27, 2014, in the Red River near Breckenridge, Minnesota, with a fatal gunshot wound to his head. He was wearing a backpack which had been filled with rocks. The weapon used hasn’t been found. Law enforcement officials say they cannot determine if the gunshot wound was self-inflicted or not. Sadek’s family feel he was murdered because he was identified as an informant for law enforcement.
I think the family may have the right of that.
The case has gotten no small amount of local media coverage, and has even inspired some reports in national publications, but a 60 Minutes review is sure to elevate its prominence significantly.
And that’s where things get political. Sadek’s parents say the drug task force bullied their son into acting as a criminal informant. They want a new state law to restrict how law enforcement can use CI’s.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem’s office has reviewed the Sadek case and released a report finding no wrongdoing. What’s more, Stenehjem has said that he opposes the sort of legislation the Sadeks are proposing.
And Stenehjem, I don’t need to remind you readers, is running for governor.
If the 60 Minutes report finds problems, or even just the perception of problems, with how the drug task force did their job – and you have to think they did otherwise why would they broadcast the story? – then Stenehjem could feel the blowback.
Blowback Democrats could be positioned well to capitalize on what with long-time attorney Sarah Vogel looking likely to be their nominee.
Though we have to remember that Stenehjem is wildly popular in the state. Polling conducted this fall (albeit by a Republican-aligned marketing firm) showed him with over 80 percent favorability. Stenehjem can absorb a lot of negative press – be it based on real or perceived problems – before it’s a threat to his electability.
One thing is certain, though, is that Stenehjem’s campaign can’t afford to ignore this.