Austin man pleads not guilty to selling Oxycontin to informant

Published 10:03 am Tuesday, January 31, 2012

By Amanda Lillie


An Austin man accused of selling more than 200 Oxycontin pills to a confidential informant changed his plea to guilty Monday in Mower County District Court.

Joel Robert Nelson, 57, previously pleaded not guilty to first-degree drug sales, second-degree drug sales and first-degree possession of 500 or more doses. However, he filed a petition Monday to enter a guilty plea to the count of second-degree drug sales. The other two charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

Nelson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 22.

According to court documents, Nelson sold Oxycontin to the confidential informant on at least three occasions between August and October of 2011.

The informant told police detectives in August that Nelson gets about 380 pills a month through a Veterans Administration prescription. Nelson and the informant completed drug transactions at Jellystone Campground twice; the first time, the informant bought 20 pills for $400, and the second time he bought 100 pills at $15 per pill.

Another transaction occurred at the Twin Towers, where Nelson lives. The informant bought 100 pills in that transaction, too, according to court documents.

An undercover officer accompanied the informant on two of the transactions.

Police arrested Nelson at his camper at Jellystone in early October. According to the court complaint, police seized almost $3,000, a handgun, more than 700 Oxycontin pills, nearly four grams of marijuana and paraphernalia and a .22 caliber boot pistol and ammunition in Nelson’s camper.

Nelson initially denied selling the pills. Eventually he said he had “given” the pills to a friend, according to a court complaint. He admitted to giving the pills to people in exchange for money, but never specifically admitted to “selling” the pills, according to court documents.