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Appeals court vacates sentences of Big Lake man caught stealing anhydrous for meth

WILLMAR -- The state Court of Appeals has vacated two of three prison sentences against David Wayne Opsahl, 36, of Big Lake, who was found guilty in January 2008 of stealing anhydrous ammonia from the Blomkest Fertilizer plant with intentions of making methamphetamine.

In an unpublished opinion released Tuesday, the appeals court affirmed the five convictions, on three felony and two misdemeanor counts, against Opsahl, but vacated two concurrent sentences because they were part of the same behavioral incident.

Opsahl was sentenced in February 2008 in Kandiyohi County District Court, to 33 months in prison, for possessing meth precursors with intent to manufacture. He also received concurrent sentences of 21 and 19 months, for stealing anhydrous ammonia and tampering with anhydrous equipment. No sentence was pronounced on the misdemeanor charges.

Opsahl was found guilty in a jury trial in January 2008. According to the Department of Corrections Web site, he is expected to be released this month from the Minnesota Corrections Facility at Rush City.

His accomplice, Jeffrey Elton Schmiege, 39, of Isle, later pleaded guilty to charges for aiding and abetting - possessing methamphetamine precursors with intent to manufacture and for tampering with anhydrous ammonia equipment. He was sentenced to five years in prison and, according to the DOC Web site, is expected to be released this December from the Minnesota Corrections Facility at Moose Lake.

The men were charged after they were arrested by Kandiyohi County sheriff's deputies in the early morning hours of Oct. 15, 2007. A deputy on patrol spotted them walking away from the fertilizer plant. Deputies and agents from the CEE-VI Drug Task Force found that an anhydrous tank at the plant had been tampered with and was leaking, found a 10-pound air tank containing anhydrous next to a telephone pole nearby and a trail of pieces of duct tape, gloves and tubing between the plant and the tank.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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