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Complaint: Meth, scale among items seized in raid

A criminal complaint issued last week against a Hudson man outlined more details from the police raid on his business.

A search warrant executed May 15 at Hilltop Service Center led to the arrest of owner Howard J. Bennett, 57, along with one other man picked up on a probation hold who was later released from custody. Bennett was charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court with one count of felony methamphetamine possession and a misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia. He posted a $500 cash bond May 18 and had his case moved into the trial phase after a preliminary hearing Monday, May 22.

According to the criminal complaint:

St. Croix Valley Drug Task Force investigators at 7 a.m. executed the warrant at the business. Bennett was found at the front counter and was taken into custody. When asked by an investigator if there were drug-related issues at the business, Bennett suspected it was a reference to a family member.

He denied any drug use and told investigators there must have been a mistake. Task force members wouldn't find any drugs at the business, Bennett said.

Shortly after, investigators found a baggie in a cabinet above an office desk containing suspected meth. Bennett's driver's license and checkbook were found nearby, as well as a computer displaying his log-in name. The suspected meth weighed about a half-ounce. A scale containing suspected meth residue was also seized.

Hilltop Service Center's bookkeeper, who is also Bennett's girlfriend, spoke with investigators and said she suspected Bennett was using meth daily in the back office. The woman "also believes that some of Bennett's customers may be paying him in methamphetamine and not money for repairs on items brought in," the complaint states.

The woman also made reference to the same family member Bennett had, calling a loft space in the upstairs of the business the man's "opium den." That man, who has an open meth case from January in St. Croix County, was neither arrested nor charged in relation to last week's raid.

Bennett is scheduled to be arraigned June 22 in St. Croix County.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

(715) 426-1072
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