Former North Dakota lawmaker to plead guilty to traveling to pay for sex with minor | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Former North Dakota lawmaker to plead guilty to traveling to pay for sex with minor

FILE - North Dakota Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, speaks on the Senate floor at the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., in November 2021. The former North Dakota lawmaker who was one of the most powerful members of the Legislature has signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on a charge that he traveled to Europe with the intent of paying for sex with a minor. It was filed Monday, June 24, 2024. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)
Original Publication Date June 24, 2024 - 1:41 PM

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A former North Dakota lawmaker who was one of the most powerful members of the Legislature has signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors on a charge that he traveled to Europe with the intent of paying for sex with a minor.

Former Republican state Sen. Ray Holmberg, 80, of Grand Forks, signed the plea agreement last week. It was filed Monday. He agreed to plead guilty to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity.

Prosecutors will recommend the low end of the sentencing guideline range and move to dismiss Holmberg's other charge, receipt and attempted receipt of child sexual abuse material, according to the plea agreement. He would have to register as a sex offender under the plea deal.

The maximum penalties are 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervised release, according to the document. Prosecutors will likely recommend a prison sentence of roughly three to four years, Holmberg attorney Mark Friese said. The court will schedule a plea hearing and order a presentence investigation report, he said. Sentencing is likely to happen sometime this fall, he said.

The travel offense doesn't carry a mandatory sentence; the receipt charge has a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, Friese said.

Prosecutors alleged Holmberg repeatedly traveled to Prague in the Czech Republic with intent to pay for sex with a minor from around June 2011 to November 2016. The indictment against Holmberg was unsealed in October 2023.

Holmberg served in the Legislature from 1976 until mid-2022. He first announced his intent not to seek reelection, but he resigned following reporting from The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead that he exchanged dozens of text messages with a man in jail for child sexual abuse material.

His trial was scheduled to begin in September in Fargo. He initially pleaded not guilty.

For many years, Holmberg chaired the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, which writes budgets. He also chaired the Legislative Management panel, which handles the Legislature's business between biennial sessions. That job let him approve his own travel.

Records obtained by The Associated Press showed that Holmberg took dozens of trips throughout the U.S. and to other countries since 1999. Destinations included cities in more than 30 states as well as Canada, Puerto Rico and Norway.

Earlier this year, the North Dakota School Boards Association returned about $142,000 to the state and ended its role in the Global Bridges teacher exchange program months after releasing travel records following Holmberg's indictment that showed he traveled to Prague and other European cities in 2011, 2018 and 2019, utilizing state funds. It's unclear whether the misconduct alleged by authorities occurred during any of those trips.

News from © The Associated Press, 2024
The Associated Press

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