Man Tied To Former North Dakota Lawmaker Sentenced To 40 Years For Child Sexual Abuse Images

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a North Dakota man to 40 years in prison in connection with child sexual abuse images.

Nicholas James Morgan-Derosier, 36, of Grand Forks, has ties to former Republican state senator Ray Holmberg, who is accused of traveling to Europe with the intent of paying for sex with a minor.

U.S. District Chief Judge Peter Welte also sentenced Morgan-Derosier to pay $39,000 in restitution to 13 victims and to serve a life term of supervised release.

An indictment in January 2022 charged him with six counts of possession of materials containing child sexual abuse images and other offenses including receipt and distribution of child sexual abuse images, transportation of child sexual abuse images, transportation of a minor and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity.

The North Dakota U.S. Attorney's Office said investigators found thousands of images and videos of child sexual abuse on devices at Morgan-Derosier's home during a warranted search.

In September 2023, Morgan-Derosier signed a plea agreement pleading guilty to receipt and distribution and the six counts of possession.

“The monstrous conduct of this defendant towards children makes this strong sentence an appropriate one,” North Dakota U.S. Attorney Mac Schneider said in a statement. “This defendant preyed on kids online and in real life, and the public is safer now that he is in the long-term custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.”

The Associated Press left a phone message for Morgan-Derosier's public defenders with a spokesman for the Federal Public Defender Office in Fargo.

Holmberg and Morgan-Derosier exchanged dozens of text messages in August 2021 when Morgan-Derosier was in jail for child sexual abuse charges, according to reporting by The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Holmberg told The Forum the messages were about “a variety of things,” including patio work by Morgan-Derosier.

In early 2022, Holmberg, who is 80, announced he wouldn't seek reelection, but he later resigned in the wake of The Forum's reporting, after nearly 46 years in the North Dakota Senate. He was indicted last year and is scheduled for trial in September. He declined to comment on Morgan-Derosier's sentencing.

“I just can't talk about anything like this, according to — I'm following my attorney's orders,” he said.