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Judge OKs changing venue in lawsuit over death of 20-year-old drug informant

Tammy and John Sadek, photographed in their home near Rogers, N.D., on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, have yet to receive closure with respect to the death of their son, Andrew, who died last year. An autopsy concluded that Sadek died from a gunshot wound, but it could not determine the manner in which he died. Nick Wagner / Forum News Service1 / 2
Andrew Sadek2 / 2

WAHPETON, N.D. — A judge here has approved moving the trial of the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Andrew Sadek, a former undercover drug informant who was found dead in the Red River with a gunshot wound to his head and a backpack of rocks tied around his waist.

Lawyers for both sides determined that the high-profile nature of the case would make it difficult to find impartial jurors in Richland County. Judge Jay Schmitz agreed and recently signed an order moving the trial to the Stutsman County Courthouse in Jamestown.

The trial is set to begin April 20, 2018.

The suit filed in Richland County District Court claims wrongful death, fraud and deceit and names Richland County and Richland County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Weber as defendants.

It was filed in the wake of Sadek's death. He went missing in May 2014, and his body was found two months later in the Red River.

Autopsy results were inconclusive, but Sadek's parents, Tammy and John Sadek, maintain their son was murdered as the result of his work as an informant, a role they say authorities coerced him into after he was arrested for selling a small amount of marijuana.

Sadek, a 20-year-old college student, was required to make multiple undercover drug purchases, and police were expecting him to make more when he cut off contact with them before his disappearance.

In response to efforts by the Sadek family, a bill was recently passed in the North Dakota Legislature that contains new protections for confidential informants.

Known as "Andrew's Law," the legislation requires training for law enforcement officers before using confidential informants and mandates that the North Dakota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board write rules that provide "reasonable protective measures" for informants. It also requires a written agreement with informants, which makes it clear that they can speak with an attorney or stop working as an informant at any time.

The bill prohibits juveniles under age 15 from being confidential informants and has limitations for juveniles 15 and older. It also prohibits campus police from using confidential informants.

In addition, the legislation requires the state attorney general to authorize an independent investigation if a confidential informant dies.

Dave Olson
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