Minneapolis man to be sentenced for latest in long string of drug chargesA Minneapolis man has been charged with second-degree possession of a controlled substance, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility and driving after cancellation.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A Minneapolis man has been charged with second-degree possession of a controlled substance, introduction of contraband into a correctional facility and driving after cancellation.
Zuriel Antwon Gray, 32, was charged in Carlton County Court on Jan. 31 after being apprehended by Minnesota State Patrol Officer David Vereecken on Interstate 35 near Esko.
Gray posted bail of $5,000 on Jan. 31, and on Feb. 27 he pleaded guilty to third-degree possession of cocaine as part of a plea agreement, with the other charges dismissed. Judge Robert Macaulay ordered a presentence investigation, and Gray is scheduled for sentencing on April 17 at 9 a.m.
According to the complaint filed in the case, Vereecken was on routine patrol at approximately 3:20 a.m. traveling northbound on I-35. Road conditions at the time were extremely dangerous due to glare ice conditions. Vereecken observed two vehicles traveling southbound, one of them clocked at 45 miles per hour and the second at 70. Due to the hazardous driving conditions, Vereecken determined the second driver was traveling too fast, so he found a crossover and attempted to catch up with the vehicle.
Near Black Bear Casino Resort, the driver of the vehicle was forced to slow down due to a Minnesota Department of Transportation plow truck, but rather than staying behind the truck, the vehicle accelerated around it and continued southbound on the Interstate.
Vereecken was eventually able to inch up on the vehicle and activated the lights on his squad car to make a traffic stop. At that point the driver of the speeding vehicle began to brake and went directly into the ditch.
As Vereecken approached the vehicle, he noted there was a passenger in addition to the driver. As Vereecken spoke with them, he detected the odor of burnt marijuana coming from within the vehicle.
The driver, identified as Gray, admitted his driver’s license was cancelled and further stated he had been stopped earlier by a trooper in Duluth, claiming the trooper had permitted him to keep driving despite the fact he had been cancelled. When Vereecken checked out that incident, he learned that Gray had been allowed to park his car at the Holiday Station in West Duluth and not given permission to continue driving.
Gray was then transported to the Carlton County Jail, where he was booked. During the course of the booking process, jailers found a plastic baggie with individually wrapped bindles of cocaine with a gross field weight of 6.7 grams.
His criminal record dates back to 1999 and includes several controlled substance convictions as well as a felon in possession of a firearm conviction, all in Hennepin County. In 2004 he was convicted of second-degree possession of a controlled substance in Hennepin County and sentenced to 45 months in prison. In 2008, he was convicted of fourth-degree possession of drugs with intent to sell in St. Louis County and was sentenced to 23 months in prison, and in 2011 he was convicted of fifth-degree assault in Ramsey County.