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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A Dunn County judge has determined deputies should have obtained a search warrant for a safe in the case of a 56-year-old Ridgeland man charged with felony possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver.
Anthony Kurtz appeared with his attorney, William Schembera, October 16 before Judge Rod Smeltzer for a decision on a motion to suppress evidence.
Kurtz is charged in Dunn County with two felony counts of possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver and felony bail jumping and four misdemeanor counts of bail jumping, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine.
Schembera filed a motion August 18 to suppress evidence found in the search of Kurtz’s vehicle, who was stopped for driving over the speed limit on state Highway 64 in the Town of Sand Creek on September 11, 2019.
Judge Smeltzer said the search of the vehicle was proper but that the officer should have obtained a search warrant for a safe that was found in the vehicle and granted the motion Schembera filed in regard to the safe but denied the remainder of the motion, according to online court records.
According to the criminal complaint, after seeing a vehicle driving over the speed limit, a Dunn County deputy ran a check on the license plates of the vehicle, and the plates were registered to someone living just outside the City of Menomonie. The deputy then observed the vehicle pulling into a residence on Highway 64 where it is believed the occupants of the residence and those visiting the residence use controlled substances.
The vehicle stayed at the residence for one and a half to two minutes, and then left.
The deputy caught up with the vehicle and and conducted a traffic stop based on the vehicle’s previous traffic violation of speeding on Highway 64. Kurtz’s driver’s license listed a Chippewa Falls address although a later check of in-house records indicated Kurtz was homeless. Kurtz told Deputy Shields he was living at the residence where he had stopped for a minute or two and also told the deputy he was borrowing the vehicle from a friend, according to the complaint.
Kurtz informed the deputy, too, that he had an appointment scheduled with his probation officer later that afternoon.
When Kurtz rolled down the window of the vehicle, the deputy detected the odor of marijuana. The deputy also observed a black butane torch on the front seat of a type commonly used by people using controlled substances, especially methamphetamine.
When the deputy conducted a probable cause search of the vehicle, he found a small crystal like rock in the driver’s seat that tested positive for methamphetamine. Kurtz said the car was not his, and the deputy must have planted the methamphetamine, the complaint states.
As the deputy continued to search the vehicle, he discovered an LED headlamp and a lock picking set along with other crystal-like substances that tested positive for methamphetamine.
When a backup deputy arrived, the two deputies discovered a second lock picking set as well as a black nylon briefcase, a black duffel bag, unused syringes, a scale with residue that later tested positive for methamphetamine, a pipe that tested positive for marijuana and a meth “bubble” with residue.
In the briefcase was a silver and black Case style safe. When Kurtz was asked for the combination, he said it was not his, so the deputies used a sledge hammer to open the safe. When the safe was cracked open, Deputy Shields observed a large quantity of cash and other items that appeared to be illegal substances, according to the complaint.
The cash totaled $1,725 in 100s, 50s, 20s, a ten and a five. A cigarette pack contained several gem packs with a crystal substance that tested positive for methamphetamine and a Baggie had contents that tested positive for cocaine. An e-cigarette cartridge that fit an e-cigarette base found in the car was for a brand of THC oil that tested over 95 percent THC (the active substance in marijuana).
Possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine is a Class E felony that carries a penalty, upon conviction, of up to a $50,000 fine and/or up to 15 years in prison.