Federal trial set in obstruction case
A Waubun, Minn., man appears headed for trial in Fargo's federal court on charges of obstructing justice and lying to a grand jury. Stanley Clayton Dietz, 29, lied to a grand jury in October 2002 when he denied having direct knowledge of drug tra...
A Waubun, Minn., man appears headed for trial in Fargo's federal court on charges of obstructing justice and lying to a grand jury.
Stanley Clayton Dietz, 29, lied to a grand jury in October 2002 when he denied having direct knowledge of drug trafficking in the Fargo-Moorhead area, U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley said.
A grand jury investigation led to the Sept. 24 indictment of 13 people charged with distributing more than 70 pounds of meth and other drugs in the region.
Dietz was prepared to plead guilty to the perjury and obstruction charges on May 25, but his attorney asked for a continuance after U.S. District Judge Rodney Webb expressed concerns with the government's case.
During a second plea hearing on Thursday, Dietz again maintained his innocence and refused a plea agreement offered by prosecutors.
The agreement offered Dietz immunity from prosecution on drug charges and a chance at a lighter sentence if he pleaded guilty to the perjury and obstruction charge and cooperated with law enforcement officials.
Wrigley told Dietz the plea offer stands for one week.
Dietz has information that could be helpful in prosecuting others named in the drug-trafficking indictment, but his value is diminishing, Wrigley said during the plea hearing.
"He knows that the defendants in the underlying matter are one by one pleading guilty or heading for trial," Wrigley said.
On Tuesday, Webb encouraged Dietz to help prosecutors.
"You've got some valuable information, but the value is diminishing every day," he said. "Other people are rushing to tell the prosecutor what they can in this case."
Last week, Webb questioned why prosecutors sought both perjury and obstruction charges, which together carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The government, Webb said, may not be able to show that Dietz intended to derail the grand jury investigation - a prerequisite to proving the obstruction charge.
Webb scheduled Dietz's jury trial to begin June 21.
Dietz is among four people charged with lying to the grand jury in its drug-trafficking investigation.
On March 18, 2003, a federal jury convicted Linda Quam of lying to the grand jury and obstructing justice. Quam, of rural Hawley, Minn., lied when she told the grand jury she didn't have direct knowledge of drug sales, the jury ruled after listening to testimony for two days.
Webb sentenced Quam to 15 months in prison.
Gregory Krutsinger, 26, 233 23rd St. N., Fargo, pleaded guilty to the same charges on April 22. His sentencing is set for Aug. 19.
Travis Hanson, 28 of Sheyenne, N.D., has pleaded not guilty to the charges and awaits a July 26 trial.
Of the 13 people indicted on drug charges, eight have pleaded guilty and five are set to stand trial June 14.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526