News and Press Releases

New Town Man Found Guilty of Sex Trafficking, Sexual Abuse, Drug Trafficking & Witness Tampering

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2012

BISMARCK - U.S. Attorney Timothy Q. Purdon announced that on April 10, 2012, Dustin J. Morsette, a/k/a Dusty J. Morsette, 22, of New Town, N.D., was found guilty in U.S. District Court by a federal jury of counts involving sex trafficking, sexual abuse, drug trafficking and witness tampering.

Following a six-day jury trial, the federal jury convicted Morsette of one count of sex trafficking by force or coercion, three counts of aggravated sexual abuse by force, five counts of sexual abuse of a minor, two counts of sexual abuse, one count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute marijuana, three counts of employment or use of a person under 18 years of age in drug operations, and one count of tampering with a witness. There were five female victims of the sexual abuse by Morsette, four of whom were minors under 16 years of age at the time of the offenses.

In or about September 2009, Morsette and another person conspired to distribute marijuana in and around the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. As part of this conspiracy, Morsette began to recruit minors and young adults to be part of a gang he described as the Black Disciples. According to testimony at trial, Morsette used physical force and coercion to cause an adult female he had recruited for the gang to engage in commercial sex acts on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and in Williston and Minot. After his
arrest in July 2010, Morsette attempted to influence this adult female’s testimony in this case and to prevent communication of information about the sexual abuse and prostitution activity to law enforcement.

Also according to trial testimony, gang members were required to distribute marijuana for Morsette and/or engage in sexual acts with Morsette. Morsette used force and threats to coerce individuals he recruited for the gang into engaging in the sexual acts with him. Morsette also engaged in a sexual act with a minor who was physically incapable of consenting to the act due to her consumption of alcoholic beverages and drugs. Morsette utilized several minors whom he had recruited for the gang to distribute
or assist with the distribution of marijuana in the New Town area.

The count of sex trafficking by force or coercion carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 15 years in federal prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release. The statutory maximum penalty for this count is life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and lifetime supervised release.

The three counts of aggravated sexual abuse by force each carry a statutory maximum penalty of life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and lifetime supervised release.One of these counts involved a minor under the age of 16 years and carries a minimum mandatory sentence of 30 years in prison.

The five counts of sexual abuse of a minor each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and lifetime supervised release.

The two counts of sexual abuse each carry a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and lifetime supervised release.

The count of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute marijuana carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

The three counts of employment or use of person under 18 years of age in drug operations each carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison, a $500,000 fine, and six years of supervised release. These counts each carry a minimum mandatory sentence of one year in federal prison.

The count of tampering with a witness carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Indian Affairs - Fort Berthold Agency and Three Affiliated Tribes Police Department.

Sentencing for Morsette has been scheduled for July 30, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Bismarck, N.D., at 2:00 p.m.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Volk is prosecuting the case.

 

 

Return to Top

USAO Homepage
USAO Briefing Room
Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee

Training and seminars for Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Agencies.

Project Safe Childhood

Help us combat the proliferation of sexual exploitation crimes against children.

Justice 101
What Makes Schools Safer? Using science to discover what works. Federal funding available. Visit NIJ.gov, keywords: 'comprehensive school safety intiative'