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Published November 06 2010

Woman faces 40 years for dealing pot

A Fargo woman faces up to 40 years in federal prison for her role in a drug conspiracy that involved dealing thousands of pounds of marijuana in North Dakota.

Lisa Marie Fernandez, 29, and her husband, Jilberto Fernandez-Toscano, are each charged with distributing and possessing with intent to distribute between 700 and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana since January 2003.

Fernandez pleaded guilty to the charge Friday in Fargo’s U.S. District Court.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of between five and 40 years in prison, followed by up to five years of supervised release, and a fine of no more than $2 million.

Fernandez and Fernandez-Toscano “have significant ties to Mexico,” and they’re accused of dealing marijuana between Washington state and elsewhere to areas in North Dakota, such as Fargo and the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation, Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers said.

For her role, Fernandez is accused of helping handle the money exchanged during the drug deals – a total amount that exceeds $100,000 over the course of the conspiracy, Myers said.

A sentencing hearing is slated for Jan. 14.

Fernandez-Toscano last appeared in U.S. District Court on Oct. 6, when he pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. A jury trial is set for Nov. 16. He remains in custody in the district, Myers said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541