Cops get stung
Drug enforcement agents conducting a sting may have been stung by the stingee.
But, defense attorney Bill Grogin says his client shouldn’t be charged with a felony.
“He had no reason to believe the money was public funds. The officers didn’t identify themselves as such,” he says.
Grogin made his oral argument for 41-year-old Ernesto Guerra of Wells on Monday in Faribault County District Court.
Grogin says because less than $1,000 was allegedly stolen, his client should be charged with a gross misdemeanor.
County Attorney Troy Timmerman will get a chance to respond to Grogin’s request before Judge Douglas Richards issues a ruling.
Timmerman told Richards he needs a week to prepare his argument.
Guerra has been charged with theft of government funds involving a “drug buy” in June 2010.
According to court papers dated Nov. 4, 2010, a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent met with five agents of a drug task force to discuss using $1,400 in “buy money” to purchase half an ounce of methamphetamine.
The court complaint says a confidential informant had arranged a meeting between an undercover agent and Guerra.
On June 23, law enforcement officials and the confidential source went to meet Guerra at his residence to discuss buying the meth.
Court documents say Guerra met with an undercover BCA?agent and confidential informant and he insisted getting the $1,400 upfront, otherwise the drug deal would not happen.
Eventually, Guerra was given $700 in marked money to buy the meth from a source who reportedly lived nearby.
Guerra indicated he would be gone 15 to 20 minutes, however, two agents followed him to Austin to an apartment complex just south of Interstate 90.
Two hours after the drug deal was to occur, officials returned to interview Guerra’s friend who told them she did not know where he was.
The complaint says Guerra has not reimbursed the agent the $700 or delivered the meth and his whereabouts were unknown.
Guerra was arrested by Winnebago County authorities in Iowa on a Faribault County warrant and has been in local custody since March 8.
Bond for his release has been set at $10,000.
Theft of government funds carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.