Man found guilty on meth lab charges

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 28, 2000

A Wykoff man was found guilty Tuesday on charges in connection with a meth lab he operated in Austin.

Thursday, September 28, 2000

A Wykoff man was found guilty Tuesday on charges in connection with a meth lab he operated in Austin.

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Matthew Wayne Horstman was found guilty of conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine drugs, however, he was found not guilty of aiding and abetting in the actual manufacture.

The 35-year-old man listened impassively with his attorney, Peggy Roskow-Esken at his side Tuesday morning.

Jury foreman Daniel Hanson read the verdicts aloud at District Judge Donald E. Rysavy’s request. Sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Oct. 12.

After the guilty verdict was announced Tuesday morning, Mower County Attorney Patrick A. Oman and co-counsel for the trial, Timothy Rank, a state assistant attorney general, spoke to reporters.

Rank said he agreed with the verdict of the jury on the twin charges and that Horstman’s involvement included "conduct related to a conspiracy."

Oman and Rank said the testimony of others charged in connection with the Oct. 6 raid of a meth lab along 10th Drive SE in Austin would not have been possible without the cooperation of Horstman’s associates.

The trio – Sandy Davis, Harry Meaders and Jessica George - all negotiated reduced felony charges of third-degree controlled substance crimes in exchange for their testimony. Meaders and George also face felony first-degree drug charges in Steele County in connection with methamphetamine manufacturing there.

Horstman and his associates had been operating in Austin since the spring of 1999 after moving their lab here from a location under a bridge at Mazeppa.

"They were cooking an awful lot of meth here," Oman said. They were selling the drug in the Austin and Rochester areas and all four also were "heavy" intravenous drug users, he added.

Austin police and other law enforcement agencies raided the lab Oct. 6 in a garage owned by Kevin Sorg, who had leased it to Horstman and his associates. They told him they had planned to open a motorcycle repair shop and sell motorcycle parts.

"The building had everything they needed," Oman said. "The space, the ventilation to the rear and a brushy field. Everything."

Another associate known only as "Outlaw," the attorneys said, provided "muscle." However, the man, a fugitive, was caught out of state and returned to an unidentified federal prison.

Oman said there was no concrete evidence that Horstman and his associates were connected to any criminal organization, but Rank said some testimony during the trial revealed that possibility.

Until the lab was raided, the four people created between 20 and 50 batches of methamphetamine drugs, which were sold on the street for $50, $100 and $250 per quantity.

Rank said he was "extremely pleased" to work with the Mower County attorney’s office in the prosecution and also praised local law enforcement’s investigation.

He called methamphetamine use a "real plague."

Austin Police Detective Sgt. Tom Stiehm said police received two tips that a meth lab was operating in Austin.

Ironically, a fire erupted in the lab. When law officers conducted the raid, Meaders, Davis and Horstman had escaped, leaving George behind.

What will the impact of the conviction and guilty verdict have on the meth drug community?

Stiehm said it could have substantial impact.

"He (Horstman) is up there in the jail with three co-defendants. Everyone in the jail will see what this guy is getting. I think it will send a shudder throughout the meth community.

"It shows we are willing to put the time and resources into both the investigation and the prosecution of a case like this and we’ll do it again."