By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A 60-year-old Colfax man sentenced to one year in jail on a revoked probation for felony possession of methamphetamine has been granted Huber privileges to work in the jail garden.
Leo P. Herrera appeared in Dunn County Circuit May 27 to request Huber privileges.
Judge Rod Smeltzer revoked Herrera’s three years of probation during a court hearing April 9 and sentenced him to one year in jail with no Huber privileges.
Herrera was placed on probation for a 2013 case in which he had been charged with felony possession of methamphetamine.
Herrera, formerly a resident of 408 Cedar Street in Colfax, originally was charged in the 2013 case with one felony count of maintaining a drug trafficking place and misdemeanor counts of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
The felony count of maintaining a drug house and the misdemeanor counts of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia were dismissed on a prosecutor’s motion.
Herrera pleaded guilty in November of 2013 to one felony count of possessing methamphetamine and was sentenced to three years of probation and 50 hours of community service.
On March 11 of this year, Herrera was arrested following a domestic disturbance that involved his wife, Karen Herrera, who also was arrested.
According to Colfax Police Chief William Anderson, Karen Herrera confirmed to him that there had been an argument and claimed that her husband did have a knife on him inside the residence but that he did not threaten her with it.
Leo and Karen Herrera gave conflicting stories as to what had happened, and there were no witnesses to the physical confrontation between the two of them, Police Chief Anderson said.
Leo and Karen Herrera were both arrested, and both were charged with state disorderly conduct and taken to the Dunn County jail.
Probation officers for both Leo and Karen Herrera were notified.
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.
Karen Herrera was arrested in Colfax during a drug raid by the West Central Drug Task Force at the Cedar Street house in March of this year.
At the time of the March drug raid, Leo Herrera was in the Dunn County jail and was not present at the Cedar Street house.
According to on-line court records, Ann Burton of Downing filed an eviction case in Dunn County Circuit Court in May for the 408 Cedar Street house and named Leo and Karen Herrera as defendants, along with Jessie Thoms.
John Bjork, Herrera’s attorney, told Judge Smeltzer that if Huber privileges were granted, Herrera would be able to find work.
Herrera has worked in roofing and as a cook at a restaurant in the past, he said.
Judge Smeltzer said he wanted to know “what has changed” in the time since he refused to grant Huber privileges at the April 9 sentencing hearing.
“Leo has not enjoyed being in jail,” Bjork said, adding that Herrera knows jail is “not fun” and that “if he screws up he is back in jail.”
Bjork said he was not Herrera’s attorney at the time of the April 9 hearing and was not familiar with Judge Smeltzer’s reasons for denying Huber.
Dunn County Assistant District Attorney Holly Wood-Webster represented the state in the Huber motion hearing and said that she, too, had not been involved in Herrera’s case and was not familiar with Judge Smeltzer’s reasoning.
Dunn County Jail Sergeant Dale Dohms also attended the hearing and said he had no strong opinion either way about whether Herrera should be granted Huber privileges to get out of jail to go to work.
Herrera does, however, need to follow simple jail rules, such as not writing on the walls, Sergeant Dohms said.
Herrera told the court he wanted to go to work so he could begin paying off his debts, including the $5 per day charge from the jail.
“I am sorry for what I did,” Herrera said, adding that he also needed to pay the fine for the disorderly conduct charge.
Wood-Webster suggested that Herrera could be granted Huber to work in the jail garden.
Judge Smeltzer relented on his earlier ruling of no Huber privileges and said Herrera would be granted Huber to work in the jail garden until August 1.
If working in the jail garden goes all right, then Huber can be extended to find work outside of the jail after August 1, Judge Smeltzer said.
Herrera is scheduled to serve time in the Dunn County jail until December 1 and was given credit for 34 days in jail already served on the felony possession of methamphetamine and 79 days of credit for time served in jail associated with the felony bail jumping case.