GRAND FORKS - A Grand Forks man charged with two felonies in North Dakota in connection with an alleged conspiracy to import and distribute fentanyl in the region has been summoned to appear in a Polk County, Minn., court this week on a related charge.
Tucker Christian Collings, 20, faces one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated controlled substance crime in the first degree, a felony punishable by as many as 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine. He has been summoned to make an initial appearance in Minnesota's 9th Judicial District Court in Crookston Thursday, June 1.
Collings is among five alleged co-conspirators now charged with conspiracy to commit aggravated controlled substance crime after an overdose in Grand Forks on March 22 led to an investigation into blue pills marked "A 215" that were disguised as OxyContin but contained fentanyl.
He was initially charged in North Dakota with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, one a Class A felony and one a Class B felony, after a search warrant at his Grand Forks apartment found 160 of the blue "A 215" pills and about 40 grams of marijuana wax.
In East Grand Forks, Minn., conspiracy charges were filed in April against Benjamin David Gotteberg, 19, Ryan John Benson Powell, 20, and Cody Allen Stengl, 20.
When Minnesota charges were filed against Collings on May 17, the charges against Powell and Gotteberg were bumped up from conspiracy to commit controlled substance crimes to aggravated controlled substance crime with harsher potential penalties, court records show. Last month, the Polk County Attorney's Office filed notices of intent to seek aggravated sentencing against Gottberg, Powell and Stengl, which would allow a judge to sentence the men to penalties beyond the typical scope of Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines if they are found guilty.
Charges have also been filed in Polk County against a man law enforcement believes to be the chief supplier of the group. Jan "Honza" Cervenka, 20, of Grand Forks, has been charged with conspiracy to commit controlled substance crime in the first degree.
Investigators received information on April 5 that a University of North Dakota student named "Honza" ordered 1,000 pills on the internet and sold them to Stengl for $7,000, according to a criminal complaint. Authorities believe Cervenka had the pills shipped to a residence in Grand Rapids, Minn., court documents state. They believe he also provided Stengl with 6,000 to 7,000 Xanax pills.
Court documents detailing law enforcement interviews with suspects and informants state Stengl was the leader of the group in Grand Forks and that Collings was his primary distributor for Xanax.
Attorney Peter Welte, who is representing Collings in Grand Forks, said his client entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment in North Dakota on May 3. He said one of his attorneys at the Vogel Law Firm's Grand Forks office will represent Collings in Minnesota.
Attorneys for the other charged parties and Polk County Attorney Greg Widseth did not respond for requests for comment Tuesday.