Andrew Sadek was a college student at the North Dakota State College of Sciences in Wahpeton. After getting busted for selling pot he was turned into a criminal informant by law enforcement officers who, by way of convincing him to cooperate with them, grossly exaggerated the consequences of his crime.
Sadek went missing and was ultimately found dead in the Red River. He had been shot in the head and his backpack was full of rocks. That crime has not yet been solved.
Flash forward to the 2017 legislative session. HB1221, introduced by Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck), would have put in place a number of guidelines for how law enforcement deals with criminal informants. The idea being to ensure that police are not bullying CI’s into putting themselves in dangerous situations.
The bill was amended slightly in the House and passed unanimously 92-0.
But in the Senate the bill has been gutted in the Judiciary Committee. An amendment replacing the entire text of the House iteration of the bill – a “hog house” to use the parlance of North Dakota lawmakers – has turned what were well-defined guidelines for handling CI’s into a requirement that the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation develop training and guidelines.
In other words, the Senate committee turned a bill setting specific rules for the use of criminal informants into a bill giving cops a blank page to develop their own policies. “It’s like rewarding a wayward child who has recklessly crashed his car by buying him a new car,” one SAB reader who also happens to be a criminal defense attorney told me.
“Cops and prosecutors have too much pull with our legislature,” he added.
The amended version of the bill was given a 5-1 “do pass” recommendation by the committee and will come to the Senate floor today for a vote.
I’ll have Sadek family attorney Tim O’Keefe on my radio show today at 1:30pm on 970 WDAY.