by April Scheinoha
A Bemidji man was sentenced Monday, Aug. 20 in Pennington County District Court in connection with the Feb. 8 drug overdose death of Samuel DeJesus Cabrales, 23, Thief River Falls.
Robert Louis Bellanger-Fohrenkam, 35, was sentenced to 110 months in prison for a felony charge of first degree controlled substance crime. He was given credit for 191 days served. Bellanger-Fohrenkam was ordered to not use or possess firearms, ammunition or explosives. He was ordered to supply a DNA sample. Bellanger-Fohrenkam was also ordered to pay $135 in fees and fines.
The drug charge stemmed from two sales of methamphetamine in the days after Cabrales’ death from a heroin/fentanyl overdose. As part of a plea agreement, a felony charge of third degree murder was dismissed.
Bellanger-Fohrenkam had requested a 24-hour furlough since his mother was being moved and he needed to remove some personal belongings. Judge Kurt Marben denied that request, noting that Bellanger-Fohrenkam was being remanded to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
A week earlier, Nathan Charles Mock, 23, Stephen, was sentenced to 36 months in prison for a felony charge of third degree controlled substance crime in connection with the case. As in Bellanger-Fohrenkam’s case, a felony charge of third degree murder was dismissed in Mock’s case.
Two other people have been charged in connection with Cabrales’ death, and their cases proceed through the court system. They include:
• Nicole Lee Baker, 30, who has been charged with felony offenses of third degree murder, third degree controlled substance crime (two counts) and fifth degree controlled substance crime.
• Aaron Daniel Zimmerman, 40, who has been charged with felony offenses of third degree murder and third degree controlled substance crime.
The charges stemmed from a 911 call Feb. 8, according to the complaint. Cabrales’ fiancee believed he had overdosed on heroin at their home. Police and an ambulance crew attempted to revive Cabrales, but he died at the scene.
While investigating, police allegedly found a hypodermic needle near Cabrales. They also found a gram-type plastic bag containing a residue believed to be a mixture containing heroin. Later, a test showed the presence of a type of fentanyl.
Besides the hypodermic needle and bag, a Pine to Prairie Task Force member collected a small amount of powder from a bathroom countertop.
Police linked the suspects to Cabrales’ death through cell phone records. A man also contacted investigators, saying that he learned Zimmerman had sold Cabrales the heroin.
Bellanger-Fohrenkam supplied the heroin mixture to Baker. Baker then allegedly gave the mixture to Mock a night before Cabrales’ death. He then gave the heroin mixture to Zimmerman, who provided an electronic tablet as collateral. Zimmerman allegedly sold the heroin mixture to Cabrales for $50. Zimmerman then gave the $50 to Mock, who returned Zimmerman’s electronic tablet. Mock then brought the money to Baker’s home.
A search warrant found Walmart money transfers in Baker’s home. The money transfers listed her name and Bellanger-Fohrenkam’s name.
The police investigator downloaded information from Cabrales’ cell phone and reviewed Facebook messages between Cabrales and Zimmerman. At the time, Zimmerman was on probation for a controlled substance crime. The messages dated back to Feb. 5 with the purchase occurring two days later.
Mock told police that he went to Baker’s home Feb. 7. He said they used meth and she asked whether he knew anyone who wanted to buy heroin. Mock said she possessed suspected heroin. He contacted others, eventually communicating with Zimmerman. He then delivered the heroin substance to Zimmerman, believing Zimmerman was selling it to someone else. Zimmerman gave him an electronic tablet as collateral until he could sell the heroin mixture and receive payment. Later, Zimmerman gave $50 to Mock for the substance. Police corroborated Mock’s statement through messages between the two men. Baker also corroborated the statement. An electronic tablet had earlier been seized at Zimmerman’s home.
Law enforcement soon conducted a search warrant at Baker’s home, 623 Horace Ave. N. Inside a safe, they found 4.9 grams of suspected meth and 4 grams of suspected heroin. The latter substance tested positive for fentanyl and was similar to the substance found at Cabrales’ home. The safe also contained Walmart receipts for money transfers totalling $3,450. The transfers listed Baker’s name and Bellanger-Fohrenkam’s name.
Baker told police that she, Mock and another man went to Bemidji on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 7. She allegedly said she obtained meth and heroin. Baker said she used some of the heroin and Mock tried to sell some of the heroin to his friends.
Upon learning someone had possibly died from the heroin she was selling, Baker became “extremely emotional.” She said she knew it was a strong substance, saying she had done a “dusting” of heroin that same morning and awoke to three friends reviving her.
Baker later worked with authorities to purchase drugs from her supplier, Bellanger-Fohrenkam. He sold 18.3 grams of meth to her for $1,100 during one transaction after Cabrales’ death.
Bellanger-Fohrenkam was arrested Feb. 12 after selling meth to Baker a second time while law enforcement performed surveillance. During that sale, Baker provided Bellanger-Fohrenkam with $500 in drug-buy money. He told Baker that he would use that money to purchase heroin. Bellanger-Fohrenkam instructed Baker to wire him money for the meth, which weighed about three grams.
During the sale, they also discussed the heroin mixture. Law enforcement recorded the exchange and heard him tell Baker how to make the heroin mixture less potent and how to test it.
In an interview with police, Bellanger-Fohrenkam admitted selling meth and heroin to Baker a day before Cabrales died from the overdose, according to the complaint. He expressed remorse for Cabrales’ death.
The complaint indicated that Bellanger-Fohrenkam had been convicted of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute in Wisconsin. He had also been convicted of third degree controlled substance crime in Minnesota.