Mankato Free Press, mankatofreepress.com
BYLINE: Dan Nienaber
North Mankato, MN
Plea agreement includes drug court option
NORTH MANKATO — A North Mankato detective charged with felony theft and drug possession in April has reached a plea deal and resigned from his job.
Jeremy Scott Swenson, who was placed on unpaid administrative leave from the North Mankato Police Department while the allegations were investigated, resigned Aug. 1, said Nancy Gehrke, North Mankato city clerk.
Swenson pleaded guilty to one count of fifth-degree felony drug possession and is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 8. Swenson had been hired as a police officer in North Mankato seven years ago and had been a detective for about a year.
A felony theft charge and two additional charges of fifth-degree felony drug possession were dismissed in exchange for Swenson's plea, said Jason Moran, assistant Le Sueur County attorney. He was appointed as a special prosecutor to avoid a conflict of interest with the Nicollet County Attorney's Office, which usually prosecutes serious criminal cases investigated by North Mankato police officers.
In April North Mankato Police Chief Chris Boyer issued a news release saying he had asked the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate allegations against Swenson. Gary Marti, Swenson's friend, called the department to report he suspected Swenson had stolen his prescription for Oxycontin.
Marti told a BCA investigator he had given Swenson five of his pills in the past when Swenson said he needed something for pain. Marti later discovered a large number of his pills were missing and he was concerned he would run out of the medication, which he was using for a chronic condition.
A Walgreens pharmacist also told the investigator that Swenson had been prescribed Oxycontin. That led to information suggesting Swenson was having his own prescription filled in a way that was likely allowing him to use more Oxycontin than the prescribed dosage.
Swenson told the investigator Marti willingly gave him more than five pills, which Marti denied when he was interviewed.
After Swenson was charged April 14, his probation officer wrote a letter to Nicollet County District Court Judge Allison Krehbiel because she was concerned about Swenson's use of pain killers. His prescriptions were checked while he was at the Social Services Building for a drug test on June 30.
The probation officer reported Swenson, who said he had dropped a transmission on his hand while helping a friend, had been issued a prescription for hydrocodone two days earlier. The prescription was for 20 tablets and he was supposed to use one tablet every one to six hours. All of the pills were gone.
Swenson also had been prescribed oxycodone a day earlier and was told to take one pill every four hours. Five of the 15 pills from that prescription had been used. The probation officer said she didn't think the usage was enough to justify a release violation.
"However, this agent felt it was necessary to inform the court," the probation officer said in the letter to Krehbiel.
Besides dismissing the other charges, the only other condition of the plea agreement is that Swenson will be allowed to participate in Nicollet County's drug court, Moran said. Krehbiel will decide what, if any, jail time Swenson will serve or fines he will pay.
"That typically is made available to first-time drug offenders," Moran said. "He has no criminal history. We're thinking he's a good candidate for drug court."
If he completes the program, he will still have a felony conviction on his record unless a judge later grants a request to have it removed. Moran also said it is unlikely Swenson will be hired as a police officer anywhere in Minnesota.
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