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Ringleader of group that robbed alleged drug traffickers gets 25 years in prison

Abbot William “Boogie” Aho faced life in prison for continuing a criminal enterprise and other charges.

Abbot AHO.JPG
Abbot William Aho

FARGO — The ringleader of a gang that robbed suspected drug dealers will spend 25 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Peter Welte sentenced Abbot William “Boogie” Aho, 28, Tuesday, April 12, in Fargo on four charges of aiding and abetting: two each for interference with commerce by threats of violence and using a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime. He also was sentenced for continuing a criminal enterprise.

Aho pleaded guilty to the charges in December, nearly two years after he led the “Slither Gang” in targeting drug traffickers in North Dakota, Minnesota and elsewhere, according to a criminal complaint. That included the Fargo-Moorhead and Fergus Falls, Minnesota, areas.

There were at least 15 victims, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in North Dakota. One victim was hit over the head with a gun while a suspect restrained a victim with a zip tie.

With 15 robberies between January and May 2019, Welte said it was a miracle no one was killed.

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Aho is the last of seven to be sentenced in the case. The minimum sentence for his crimes is 20 years in prison, though he faced life behind bars.

Prosecutors and the defense agreed to 300 months in prison for Aho, but he should serve no more than 25 years, defense attorney Kassius Benson wrote in a sentencing memorandum. Aho has taken responsibility and is sorry for his actions, the attorney said.

“Mr. Aho is not the same person that committed the acts for which he was charged,” Benson said. “Mr. Aho understands the harm that he has done to his victims, the community, his family, and himself.”

He was run over by a vehicle, beaten and left for dead during the course of his crime spree, Benson noted. That isn’t an excuse, but the court should consider Aho’s rehabilitation needs, physical and mental limitations, personal characteristics and treatment opportunities, Benson added.

Aho wrote in a letter that he is looking forward and not back. He said in court he has had time to change how he acts, and he wants to become someone his son looks up to and that his parents are proud of.

“A federal prison sentence of 300 months or 25 years is more than enough to reflect the seriousness of this instant offense, promote respect for the law and provide just punishment,” Benson wrote. “Two and a half decades in federal prison definitely reflects the seriousness of the offense.”

April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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