FARGO – The arrest on drug charges of a Florida attorney who was assisting in a wrongful death lawsuit against Richland County, N.D., and a sheriff’s deputy in the case of drug informant Andrew Sadek won’t prevent the local lawsuit from going forward, a Fargo lawyer said Monday.
Tim O’Keeffe said he and his partner, attorney Tatum O’Brien, were hired in late April to take the lead in the case, brought by Andrew’s parents, Tammy and John Sadek of Rogers.
O’Keeffe said Lance Block’s personal legal issues won’t derail the case.
“I don’t think it will have any impact,” O’Keeffe said. “We’re progressing with that lawsuit.”
Block, 61, was arrested June 1 by a Florida State University police officer after trying to purchase 10 grams of cocaine for $800 at the Publix shopping center on Ocala Road in Tallahassee, Fla., according to a report in the Tallahassee Democrat.
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He was released from jail the same day on $10,000 bond, according to media reports.
Block’s attorney, Jackie Fulford, filed a not guilty plea on his behalf on June 2, the Democrat reported.
Block was working with the Sadeks. Their son’s body was found in the Red River in 2014 at a time he was a drug informant in Richland County.
In the lawsuit filed in late June, the Sadeks seek damages from Richland County and Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Weber, the narcotics officer who recruited 20-year-old Andrew Sadek to work as an informant.
Andrew Sadek, then a student at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, was found in the river with a gunshot wound to his head and a backpack of rocks tied around his waist.
Autopsy results were inconclusive, but the Sadeks believe their son was murdered, possibly because he was working as a drug informant.
The lawsuit claims wrongful death, fraud and deceit in the case.
Reached Monday, Tammy Sadek referred questions on the status of Block and the lawsuit to O’Keeffe and O’Brien.
Tammy Sadek said she’s heard little from law enforcement in the case.
“It’s been quiet. Always hopeful they’ll find something, but …,” she said.
She added but one message:
“I just want to reiterate to let your children know when they go off to college, ‘Don’t let yourself get into that situation that Andrew was in,’ ” Sadek said.
Block heads the Lance Block Law Firm in Tallahassee and is best known in recent years for representing police confidential informants and pushing for more safeguards for their use.
He also represented the family of Rachel Hoffman in their case against the city of Tallahassee. Hoffman was killed while serving as an informant for the Tallahassee Police Department.
The case was reportedly settled for $2.6 million in 2012.
Ron Sachs, CEO of Sachs Media Group and a longtime friend of Block, said in a statement that Block is “a very good man and a great attorney who has battled the terrible demons of addiction to alcohol and drugs. He has suffered a really tough year marked by divorce, a recent diagnosis of prostate cancer, … and, obviously a relapse in his struggles with addiction.”
Sachs said Block has helped a lot of people and championed great causes.
“Now is a time for him to focus on himself,” Sachs said.
O’Keeffe said he and the Sadeks knew that Block would be getting treatment for cancer.
O’Keeffe said Block was originally brought into the case by the Sadeks because he had a reputation for handling cases involving police informants and had successfully lobbied for changes in Florida law in how police informants are handled.
“The Sadeks were looking for help in finding answers to what happened with Andrew,” O’Keeffe said. “Lance was able to guide them through the process.”