Floodwood man sentenced to 21 months on drug, stolen property chargesA Floodwood man is facing two concurrent 21-month terms in prison after being sentenced in Carlton County Court on Monday.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A Floodwood man is facing two concurrent 21-month terms in prison after being sentenced in Carlton County Court on Monday.
Eric Charles Watson, 48, was convicted of one felony count of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance on one file and one felony count of receiving stolen property in another. He will be credited for 70 and 54 days already served, respectively.
As part of a plea bargain in the first case, charges of receiving stolen property, theft and driving after suspension were dismissed. In the second, a felony charge of fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance was dismissed.
Watson has accrued a long history of criminal charges prior to this time, resulting in a cumulative criminal point score of seven. In 2006 he was convicted of both second-degree burglary and fifth-degree drug possession in Itasca County, as well as third-degree drug possession in St. Louis County (Duluth). The following year, in 2007, he was convicted of third-degree burglary and theft and damage to property in Hibbing and third-degree burglary in Duluth.
According to the criminal complaint in the first of the Carlton County matters, on Sept. 18, 2012, Cloquet Police Detective Darrin Berg began investigating the theft of copper wiring and other items from the Ulland Brothers gravel pit in the city of Cloquet. On Sept. 20, Berg and another detective went to Riverside Recycling to examine recycling information sheets and discovered that Watson had brought in several loads of copper wiring during the month of September, including two loads of copper wiring on Sept. 20 valued at approximately $7,765.
After an employee of Ulland Brothers was able to identify the copper wiring as being the property of the company, detectives located Watson’s vehicle at Black Bear Casino Resort. As Watson departed the casino, the officers followed him along Highway 210 before stopping him at the intersection of Halvorson Road. An investigation of Watson’s driver’s license revealed that it had been revoked.
Watson then admitted to bringing copper wiring to Riverside Recycling twice on Sept. 20 as well as other times prior to that date, but he claimed that he had obtained the copper from rummage sales.
At the time of Watson’s arrest, one of the detectives also located a smoking device in his vehicle which the officer recognized as a device used for smoking methamphetamine. Watson was then arrested and charged. He initially pleaded not guilty on all charges but later entered a plea of guilty on the felony drug possession charge on Feb. 6.
The other complaint against Watson states that Cloquet Police responded to a report of a burglary in the 2300 block of Carlton Avenue on Jan. 5, 2013. There they met with a man who stated he and his wife were watching the residence for the homeowners while they were out of town. The man said they had previously reported a burglary at the same residence on Dec. 23, 2012.
Officers at the scene confirmed that a person or persons had entered the home and stolen additional property. They also noted there were fresh footprints in the snow, and when they followed them they led to a residence where the owner directed them to his garage, where he said they would find Watson.
Officers discovered a flat screen TV in Watson’s truck that had been stolen from the Carlton Avenue residence, and they also found numerous other stolen items inside the garage along with Watson. Upon questioning him, Watson told officers that a man he did not know had come to the garage and then left to burglarize the Carlton Avenue home, later returning with property taken from inside the home. Watson said the man instructed him to pawn the TV and bring the cash back to him. Police further noted that at the time of questioning, Watson was wearing a pair of Sorel boots stolen from the Carlton Avenue residence.
The total value of all of the property stolen was in excess of $1,000.
While searching for items in the garage, officers further discovered a methamphetamine glass pipe, needles and a bindle containing trace amounts of methamphetamine inside one of Watson’s bags.
At that point, he was taken into custody, transported to the Carlton County Jail and later charged in Carlton County Court.