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Former North Dakota lawmaker to plead guilty to child sex tourism charge

Sentencing has not yet been set for Ray Holmberg.

Former North Dakota state Sen. Ray Holmberg has signed an agreement indicating he will plead guilty to a child sex tourism charge.

A plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court on Monday says Holmberg will voluntarily plead guilty to a charge of traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual activity.

In the agreement, the longtime legislative leader acknowledges he repeatedly traveled between June 24, 2011, and Nov. 1, 2016, from Grand Forks to Prague, Czech Republic, for the purposes of engaging in commercial sex with adolescents under age 18, the document states.

Holmberg, a Republican from Grand Forks, resigned from the North Dakota Legislature in 2022. He served more than 45 years and held the powerful position of chairing the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Under the plea agreement, prosecutors agree to dismiss a charge of receipt and attempted receipt of child pornography. Prosecutors also agree to seek a sentence on the low end of sentencing guidelines.

Defense attorney Mark Friese said in an email that federal sentencing guidelines for the charge provide a range of between three and four years in prison, which may increase or decrease depending on factors determined by the court.

The maximum sentence for the charge is 30 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release.

Holmberg, 80, also acknowledges in the agreement that he would be required to register as a sex offender.

The agreement states that it does not prevent a prosecutor in another jurisdiction from pursuing future charges against Holmberg. It also does not bar civil claims.

Holmberg was set to go to trial in Fargo in September. A date for the plea hearing has not been set.

Holmberg was among lawmakers who traveled internationally on taxpayer-funded cultural exchange trips through the organization Global Bridges. It’s unclear if the criminal allegations coincide with the state-funded trips. Travel records compiled by the North Dakota School Boards Association show that Holmberg did visit Prague while in Europe for Global Bridges trips.

The association has informally resolved an ethics complaint related to the Global Bridges program and returned state funding that was earmarked for future trips. The ethics complaint was not made public.

Republished from the North Dakota Monitor at www.northdakotamonitor.com

Reporter, North Dakota Monitor