North Dakota man gets more than 11 years in prison for role in girlfriend's fatal overdose


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FARGO, North Dakota — A Mandan man who provided the methamphetamine that led to his girlfriend's fatal overdose aims to spend his time in prison turning his life around, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Joseph Senger was sentenced Monday to more than 11 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy to distribute drugs resulting in serious bodily injury or death. He is one of 13 people charged in the case that originated with drugs from California and Arizona and resulted in the overdose deaths of two people.

Senger and Brock Fish are accused of providing methamphetamine that killed Senger's girlfriend, 59-year-old Cheri Bettis, of Mandan, in February 2013. Stormy Vickers, Senger's lawyer, called the sentence for his client a fair resolution.

"It's just a really sad case. This is drugs gone bad," Vickers said. "Joseph says he's taking this opportunity to change his life and I hope he does."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Myers declined to comment because it's an open case involving 13 defendants, some of whom have not been sentenced.

Fish, who is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 20, testified at a plea hearing earlier this month that he obtained the meth in California on trips there to drive trucks back to North Dakota for a truck dealer. He later bought meth from a second source in Arizona.

"I'd give it to Joe, and he's sell it," Fish said of Senger.

Fish and Billie Jo Kirkpatrick also are charged in the December 2012 overdose death of 39-year-old Douglas Peterson, of Pollock, South Dakota. Kirkpatrick has agreed to plead guilty to the same charge as Senger and is scheduled for sentencing in December.

Fish, who grew up on a farm north of Pollock, said during his plea hearing that he was mainly a recreational drug user.

"I just ... a lot of bad luck, I guess," he said when asked by a judge how he wound up in court.

The government and Vickers filed a joint recommendation asking for a 12-year sentence for Senger. U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland gave Senger credit for serving five months in a halfway house and sentenced him to 11 years and seven months in prison.

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