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Crash leads to big bust

A one-vehicle crash on Highway 52 north of Zumbrota Friday afternoon resulted in law enforcement finding 188 grams of methamphetamine and an unregistered handgun.

Dante Giovanni Schwarting, 28, New Salem, North Dakota, was charged with felony first-degree drug possession and felony possession of a firearm, according to a complaint filed in Goodhue County District Court Friday.

Minnesota State Patrol responded to the crash shortly after 2 p.m. and spoke with Schwarting, who said he was traveling to North Dakota with Samantha Nygaard, Hastings.

Traveling northbound on Highway 52, the vehicle drifted across the left lane, into the median where it vaulted off a crossover and came to rest in the southbound side of the highway, the complaints states.

Upon inspection of the vehicle, State Patrol found a digital scale, two glass pipes that tested positive for methamphetamine, a fully loaded pistol, five cellphones and a black backpack, which contained a plastic bag with the methamphetamine, authorities said.

The complaint states that the temporary registration sticker on the back window of the black Chevrolet Trailblazer appeared to be tampered with, so the trooper removed it and found to was listed to a 1966 Pontiac Bonneville owned by Ronald and Deborah Nelson of Devils Lake, North Dakota.

Nygaard stated in the complaint that the vehicle belonged to her and she purchased the car from Shannon Zueger of Minot, North Dakota. The vehicle did not come back registered to Zueger, according to the State Patrol.

Schwarting denied driving the vehicle, although the complaint states witnesses of the crash placed him behind the wheel. Nygaard allegedly claimed to have been driving at the time of the crash, and said she swerved to avoid another vehicle coming up behind her at a high rate of speed.

According to the complaint, Schwarting told State Patrol the black bag found in the car was his.

Schwarting was convicted of felony second-degree sale of a controlled substance in November 2008.

The maximum sentence for felony first-degree possession of methamphetamine 25 grams or more–second offense is 40 years jail time and a $1 million fine. The felony charge of certain persons not to possess firearms carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $30,000 fine.

Schwarting is next scheduled to appear in court June 27.

John R. Russett

John Russett is a regional reporter for RiverTown Multimedia, covering a variety of issues facing RiverTown communities. Previously, he worked at the Red Wing Republican Eagle, where he reported on education as well as crime and courts. 

You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnRyanRussett


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