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Forum Communications, Published December 06 2012

Another plea deal in synthetic drug case

FARGO – All 11 people charged so far in the federal case alleging a synthetic drug conspiracy that killed two teens and injured a handful of others in Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Minn., have reached plea agreements with prosecutors.

On Wednesday, Steven Bucher pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute synthetic hallucinogens made by Andrew Spofford of Grand Forks from January 2011 until this past June.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson set Bucher’s sentencing for March 4.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers has charged 11 people in the case, saying it led to the deaths of Christian Bjerk, 18, of Grand Forks, and Elijah Stai, 17, of Park Rapids, Minn., in June. Myers says Spofford mixed the hallucinogens from chemicals he ordered from overseas and distributed them through several associates. Spofford pleaded guilty last month, as have 10 of the 11. Next week, Casey Rosen is scheduled to plead guilty in an agreement with Myers, too.

Three of those charged already have been sentenced; a fourth is scheduled to be sentenced next week.