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Press Release

Dubuque Man Sentenced To Over 23 Years' Imprisonment For Manufacturing Methamphetamine

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

Methamphetamine Lab Caused Fire at House Occupied by Sleeping Child

A man whose house caught fire from an illegal methamphetamine lab was sentenced today to more than 23 years in federal prison.

Rory Lee Zirkelbach, age 43, from Dubuque, Iowa, received the prison term after a February 28, 2013, guilty plea to one count of manufacturing methamphetamine within 1000 feet of a protected location following a prior felony drug conviction.

The evidence at a prior detention hearing showed that on May 31, 2012, Zirkelbach attempted to make methamphetamine on the second floor of his residence on Jackson Street in Dubuque. The methamphetamine lab caught fire. A passing bus driver stopped his bus in front of the house and yelled at a neighbor standing on the front porch that the house was on fire. The neighbor reentered her half of the burning house to rescue her sleeping minor child. During the investigation of the fire, officials found the remnants of the methamphetamine lab which caused the fire. This residence was within 1,000 feet of Fulton Elementary School and Comiskey Park, both protected locations. Zirkelbach was convicted in 1998 of possession with intent to deliver amphetamine and possession with intent to deliver cocaine.

Zirkelbach was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade. Zirkelbach was sentenced to 235 months’ imprisonment. A special assessment of $100 was imposed, and he was ordered to make $40,803.64 in restitution for damages resulting from the fire. He must also serve a ten-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Zirkelbach is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Daniel C. Tvedt and investigated by Dubuque Drug Task Force consisting of officers from the Dubuque Police Department and the Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office.

Court file information is available at The case file number is 13-1001.

Updated February 19, 2015