When police found Andrew Sadek selling $80 worth of pot, they pressured him into being a confidential informant and told him to go after harder drugs. Then he turned up dead.”>
On Andrew Sadeks 20th birthday, North Dakota police made him an offer: moonlight as a confidential informant and avoid rotting in prison.
It was November 2013, and Sadek had never been in trouble before. Months earlier, hed sold a small amount of pot$20 and $60 worthto a narc at his school, the North Dakota State College of Science.
Sadek was in the crosshairs of a local task force, which searched his dorm room and found a plastic grinder with marijuana residue. A day later, he was in an interrogation room with Richland County sheriffs deputy Jason Weber.
Weber warned the baby-faced student he was facing 40 years in prison and a $40,000 fine for peddling weed on campus.
Obviously, youre probably not going to get 40 years, but is it a good possibility youre going to get prison time if you dont help yourself out? Yeah, there is, Weber said during the recorded interview. Thats probably not a way to start off your young adult life and career, right?
What Im going to ask for you to do is do some buys for me then depending upon how you do a lot of this could go away, Weber added.
A frightened Sadek swore not to tell a soul about the undercover ops. He never spoke to his parents or a lawyer. He was encouraged to ferret out dealers and heavier drugs on his own, footage of the interview shows. The video was released to local media last year under open-records requests.
Six months later, Sadek turned up dead. Authorities pulled his body, bound to a backpack full of rocks, from the Red River. There was a bullet hole in his head. Police tried to tell his parents, John and Tammy Sadek, he committed suicide, Tammy Sadek told The Daily Beast.
Two years later, and the Sadeks still have no answers about how their son diedbut they believe he was murdered as a result of the informant gig.
Last week, the family filed a wrongful death suit against Richland County and Deputy Weber, who helmed the dangerous operation as part of the South East Multi-County Agency Narcotics Task Force, or SEMCA.
When reached by phone, Weber declined to comment. His attorney, who also represents Richland County, also refused to speak.
Tammy Sadek says shes waited for details on her sons undercover buys, and still hopes the same deputies who recruited him will nab his killer.
Thats why were forced into this lawsuit. A lawsuit is not the North Dakota way. But this is our last grasp at hoping to get some answers, Tammy Sadek told The Daily Beast.
Were not a sue-happy state. A mans word means something here in North Dakota, she added. We trust that people are going to honor their word. We trust the police. It just didnt happen in this case.
The Sadeks have asked the FBI to take over the case, which is being probed by Minnesota and North Dakota authorities. Tammy Sadek is also working with a Republican state lawmaker on legislation to protect informants and reduce marijuana penalties in North Dakota.
Before Andrew Sadek died, he was attending the Wahpeton college on an electricians scholarship, weeks shy of graduating from a two-year program. He planned to return for a third year so he could become a master electrician.
Sadek was known for winning a state vocational skills competition. His mother said he was shy and giving, a hard worker who tended to his familys cattle ranch and, with his father and late brother, helped build their home.
He just loved working with his hands, Tammy Sadek said. He preferred to do that instead of being book smart. He wasnt at the top of his class in high school, but he was the top of his class in the vocational tech center.
Sadek was Tammy and Johns only living child. His brother, Nicholas, died at age 18 when a train struck his truck in 2005. With her family destroyed, Tammy Sadek is warning other parents that law enforcement is deploying collegiate informants.
I think [Andrew] was trying to get his quota, and he went to the wrong person, Tammy told The Daily Beast. I firmly believe he didnt do this to himself. There was no depression. No note. Ive gone through everything.
He had plans for that weekend [he went missing], she added. He had plans for his life.
As a student with no criminal record, Sadek likely never would have served prison time over such a small amount of marijuana, said family attorney Tim OKeeffe.
Were talking about college students and marijuana, which is probably an age-old topic of controversy and debate, OKeeffe told The Daily Beast. I have a hard time believing that these are the hardened criminals [police] should be spending their time and money investigating.
Sadek isnt the first or last college student targeted by law enforcement. Coeds across the country are being pressured into snitch jobsbut some have fought back or accepted criminal charges over ratting for the fuzz.
Some never made it out alive.
Cops warned Rachel Hoffman shed land 10 years in jail. The 23-year-old Florida State University grad was caught with five ounces of marijuana and a handful of ecstasy and valium pills in 2008her second drug arrest in two years.
Hoffman agreed to become a confidential informant for Tallahassee police in exchange for possible leniency in her case. Her attorney, Johnny Devine, later said he never knew of the C.I. deal until it was too late.