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Associated Press, Published November 14 2012

Man set for new federal sentencing today on crack charges

FARGO — A man sentenced to a mandatory life prison term on a crack cocaine charge after the alleged ringleader of the conspiracy received 45 years has a new sentencing hearing.

An appeals court overturned Marcus Royston's sentence because it came after a change in the law that increased the quantities of crack cocaine needed to trigger statutory minimum sentences.

Royston and Ferris Lee were among eight people accused of distributing the drug in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. A jury convicted Lee on 13 counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise. Royston was found guilty on two charges.

Lee received 45 years because a quirk in federal sentencing laws required prosecutors to choose between competing charges.

Royston's hearing is today, when his attorneys plan to recommend a 20-year sentence.