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June trial set for Colfax woman arrested in drug raid

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A one-day jury trial has been scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court June 1 for a 53-year-old woman arrested during a drug raid in Colfax March 25.

Karen A. Herrera appeared in court April 1 for a preliminary hearing on three felony counts of maintaining a drug trafficking place, manufacturing or delivering methamphetamine and bail jumping, along with misdemeanor counts of obstructing an officer and possessing drug paraphernalia.

Dan Westlund, an investigator with the West Central Drug Task Force out of the Menomonie Police Department, testified that on March 24, the day before the drug raid, a confidential informant had conducted a controlled buy of meth from Herrera at her 408 Cedar Street residence in Colfax.

The informant was given marked money with which to make the purchase, Westlund said, noting that the informant was wearing a video and audio recording device when he went into the Cedar Street house to purchase methamphetamine.

The substance purchased by the informant tested positive for methamphetamine, Westlund said.

The following day, March 25, a search warrant was executed at 408 Cedar Street. Herrera was present at the house and was arrested, along with Seth Swenson, 36, of Ridgeland.

A preliminary hearing for Swenson was conducted at the same time as the preliminary hearing for Herrera.

A glass methamphetamine pipe was found near Swenson, Westlund said.

Upon entry into the house, investigators saw Swenson set something on a computer desk, and it turned out to be a meth pipe, he said.

When Swenson was questioned, he said he put the meth pipe there but that it was not his. The people in the house were taking turns smoking meth, and Swenson said it was his turn to take a hit, Westlund said.

During a search of the Cedar Street house, the marked money was found in Herrera’s wallet, along with her driver’s license, he said.

Both Herrera and Swenson were out of jail on felony bonds at the time of the raid, Westlund said.

According to online court records, Karen Herrera pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana and was sentenced to one year of probation in July of 2013.

Charges of maintaining a drug trafficking place, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of an illegally obtained prescription were dismissed on a prosecutor’s motion.

The court accepted a deferred prosecution agreement for Karen Herrera on one felony count of possession of methamphetamine, and a deferred prosecution hearing for Herrera is scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court in July.

At the time of the March 25 raid, Swenson was out of jail on a $1,000 signature bond on one felony count of possession of methamphetamine and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia, according to online court records.

A preliminary hearing for the first case against Swenson is scheduled for May 18.

Herrera’s attorney, Peter Morin, asked if Karen and Leo Herrera were the only occupants of the Cedar Street house.

At the time of the March 25 raid, Leo Herrera was incarcerated in the Dunn County jail for a previous probation violation.

The house is an upstairs-downstairs duplex, and other people were living upstairs, Westlund said.

Drug paraphernalia was found throughout the house, he said.

Judge James Peterson found that probable cause existed in the cases against Herrera and Swenson and bound the defendants over for trial.

Herrera and Swenson both pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Judge Peterson accepted the pleas of not guilty and scheduled another court hearing on April 20 for Swenson and a jury trial for Herrera June 1.

Swenson bail

Swenson and Herrera were both in custody at the time of the April 1 court hearing.

Swenson was being held on a $1,000 cash bond, and Herrera was being held on a $5,000 cash bond.

Both defendants asked Judge Peterson to reduce the amount of the bail.

Swenson’s father has been in contact with Arbor Place and is trying to get him set up in the treatment facility, said Swenson’s attorney, Donna Burger.

If the bail were reduced to $200 cash, then Swenson could get out of jail and assist in getting himself enrolled in the in-house treatment program at Arbor Place, Burger said.

Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf objected to a reduction in bail.

Swenson already was out on a felony bond and is now charged with new felonies, she said.

While treatment is appropriate, Nodolf said she would be reluctant to allow Swenson to get out of jail to try to get a bed at Arbor Place, especially since he is unemployed and has addiction issues.

Judge Peterson agreed with the district attorney.

If treatment is lined up at Arbor Place so that Swenson can go directly from the jail to treatment, then another bond hearing can be held, Judge Peterson said.

“I will not change (the bond) on the hope of treatment,” he said.

Herrera bail

Morin asked that Herrera’s $5,000 cash bail be reduced to $500 cash.

Herrera told Judge Peterson that her son had just obtained a good job and that he is trying to work, clean out Karen and Leo Herrera’s personal items from the house and is trying to sell their vehicles and other items.

Herrera said she wanted to get out of jail so she could help her son.

District Attorney Nodolf objected to a reduction in bail.

Herrera is suspected of selling methamphetamine and is suspected of supplying another seller with meth, Nodolf said.

In addition, Herrera is unemployed, and an eviction notice has been served by her landlord, Nodolf said.

Judge Peterson agreed that the bail should remain at $5,000 cash for Herrera.

Video evidence has been obtained of Herrera delivering methamphetamine, which is a Class F felony carrying a penalty of 12 years and six months in prison, with four years of initial confinement, he said.

“The court is aware of the harm that meth is causing to the community. It is the court’s opinion (that methamphetamine) is a danger to the community,” Judge Peterson said.

The district attorney had initially asked for a $10,000 cash bail, so $5,000 is half of what the state requested, he noted.

Herrera invoked her right to a speedy trial within 90 days, and Judge Peterson scheduled a one-day jury trial for June 1.