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Dave Kolpack, Associated Press, Published January 04 2013

Judge sentences violent ND drug dealer to 27 years

FARGO — A Fargo-area man accused of assaulting and robbing a fellow drug dealer was sentenced Friday to 27 years in prison.

Marc Cossette, 30, pleaded guilty in September to a federal drug conspiracy charge. Authorities allege that Cossette, who already had a violent criminal history, beat up and stole money from another drug dealer on two occasions in the parking lot of a Fargo hotel.

“It's not often you see drug dealers robbing other drug dealers in Fargo, North Dakota,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers said.

Cossette was among several people charged in what Myers called “an enormous methamphetamine conspiracy.”

Defense attorney Stormy Vickers argued for leniency, saying Cossette's mother supplied him with drugs when he was only 13 years old. It was also alleged that Cossette's aunt hired him to babysit and paid him in marijuana.

Vickers had asked the judge to sentence Cossette to no more than 16 years in prison.

Cossette said in a written statement that he accepts responsibility for his actions, which he attributed to his own drug addiction.

“I've literally begged for treatment over the years ... but never given the chance,” Cossette wrote.

Investigators said Cossette was second-in-command in a methamphetamine ring lead by Jesse Walters, who pleaded guilty to drug charges and is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 14.

Myers asked that Cossette be sentenced to 30 years, noting that his criminal record already included eight convictions for violent crimes, including kicking one victim in the face and breaking a beer bottle over another victim's head. Myers said the lengthy sentence was needed to protect the public.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson said Cossette piled up criminal charges “almost impossible to achieve” in a 10-year period when he was in and out of prison. Cossette was a “judicial wrecking crew” when he stopped taking medication for mental illness and substance abuse, the judge said.

“He chose to substitute cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol for his prescribed medications,” Erickson said.

The judge acknowledged that the defendant's background “doesn't get much worse than this” and said he was basically abandoned as a child.

“This was a person who was allowed to grow up in a situation where there was a lot of misguidance,” Erickson said.

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