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Drug case families protest

Supporters of 10 people facing Clay County drug racketeering charges say their loved ones are innocent. Following a court hearing Wednesday, Sheryl Fraction said her sons, Gregory Cooper Fraction, 30, and Marvin Jerome Fraction, 20, were not invo...

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Supporters of 10 people facing Clay County drug racketeering charges say their loved ones are innocent.

Following a court hearing Wednesday, Sheryl Fraction said her sons, Gregory Cooper Fraction, 30, and Marvin Jerome Fraction, 20, were not involved with selling cocaine.

The woman, who moved to Fargo from Chicago in June, also said her sons should be able to review all evidence gathered by prosecutors.

In a motion filed by the attorney for Gregory Fraction, the attorney claims the jail has restricted his client's access to more than 6,000 pages of prosecution reports.

Attorney Peter Karlsson said in the motion jail staff will only allow Fraction to review a portion of the evidence at a time because the paperwork would create a fire hazard.

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Jail Administrator Julie Savat said the defendants are not allowed to review boxes of paperwork in their cells because of space limitations and safety and fire hazards.

Jail staff will accommodate them by bringing the paperwork in smaller portions or letting them review the evidence in a separate cell, Savat said.

Clay County District Judge John Pearson will address the issue in a hearing Friday.

Eight of the nine adults accused in the racketeering ring appeared in court Wednesday: Gregory Fraction, Charles Edward Fraction, 31, Dana Cobbins, 26, Ferris Lavelle Lee, 21, Lenard Dewayne Wells, 25, Herbert Christian Brown, 25, Debra Rose Ballesteros, 26, and Kayla Cheri Disher, 21.

Also, attorney Shawn Schmidt appeared on behalf of Marvin Fraction, who was subpoenaed to testify in an unrelated civil case in Minnehaha County, S.D.

The 10th person accused in the case is a juvenile.

Several defense attorneys filed motions to dismiss the charges, which Pearson will review at an Oct. 22 hearing. Defendants will enter pleas and prosecutors plan to argue for a joint trial at the hearing.

As the defendants filed out of the courtroom after Wednesday's hearing, many said, "Freedom" and "We're going home."

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Three extra deputies and two jail administrators also attended the hearing.

The defendants' family members and other supporters filled nearly two rows of seats in the courtroom.

At least four women wore custom-made T-shirts with pictures of the accused and statements claiming their innocence.

One shirt said, "Free Lenard, we won't stop fighting for you."

Sheryl Fraction said she has more than one shirt she wears to show support for her sons.

Another of her sons, Lionel Fraction, is serving a 12½-year prison sentence for a St. Cloud, Minn., drug racketeering conviction.

In the Clay County case, prosecutors say the 10 people expanded the drug ring started by Lionel Fraction and distributed cocaine in Fargo-Moorhead, Sioux Falls, S.D., and St. Cloud.

Sheryl Fraction disputes that allegation.

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Wandra Spraggs, Lee's mother, traveled from Chicago for Wednesday's hearing and said she'll be back for the next one.

Elmarie Northern, who is a cousin to Lee and Charles Fraction and a sister to the other Fraction men, said she will also fight for her family.

"We're here to support them all the way," said Northern, who also moved to Fargo from Chicago. "The family's got to stick together."

Prosecutors say in court records the defendants referred to themselves as the "Chicago Boys" gang. The women refute the claim and say there is no such gang.

"I feel the police officers gave them that name," Spraggs said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590

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