- Associated Press - Monday, June 2, 2014

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - The last of five people charged with selling heroin to a popular Fargo blues musician who died of an overdose was sentenced in federal court Monday to a little more than eight years in prison, but first her charge and plea was changed to reflect a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Following the June 2012 death of 30-year-old Cody Conner, Fargo resident Nicole Wadsworth and four other defendants were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute a controlled substance resulting in death. The charge carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.

But the Supreme Court ruled in January that someone cannot be sentenced to the minimum 20-year term without proof that the death resulted from use of the specific drug supplied by a dealer. An autopsy showed Conner had multiple drugs in his system.

Wadsworth, like the other defendants had done before they were sentenced, withdrew her guilty plea and entered a new guilty plea to conspiracy to possess with intent to deliver a controlled substance. Sentencing guidelines called for 11 to 14 years in prison; she received eight years and one month.

Defense attorney Jade Rosenfeldt told U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson in court Monday that she and Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers had detailed discussions about the new plea deal in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I think we reached a fair agreement, especially in terms of my client’s criminal history,” Rosenfeldt said. “She’s incredibly remorseful for everything that has happened in this case.”

Myers said afterward that while the high court’s opinion took the minimum mandatory sentence off the table, he was happy with the end result.

Other sentences handed down for the defendants were: 12 years on May 9 for Nathan Evenson; seven years on Oct. 29 for Seth Lund; a year-and-a-half on March 11 for Kimberly Wright; and time served on Oct. 23 for Emily Lund. All the defendants are from the Fargo area except Wright, who is from Minneapolis.

Conner was a favorite among music fans in the area. A nonprofit foundation was formed in his name to support local artists, and memorial concerts have been held the last two years.

Rosenfeldt said Wadsworth had a difficult upbringing. Her dad died in a drowning accident when she was young and her mother abused and neglected her, Rosenfeldt said. Wadsworth told Erickson she suffers from drug addiction, depression and anxiety. The judge ordered that Wadsworth enter the chemical dependency treatment program in prison.

Julie Smith, a Minneapolis addiction counselor who was friends with Wadsworth’s late grandmother, told The Associated Press that several mental health agencies rejected pleas by Wadsworth’s grandmother and others to treat her beginning when she was 16.

“She has so much potential but she never had a chance,” Smith said outside of the courtroom.



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