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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Wisconsin

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Two Additional Men Face Federal Charges in Methamphetamine Conspiracy

MADISON, WIS. -- John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced today the unsealing of an indictment returned on June 1, 2016, by a grand jury sitting in Madison, charging Paul Rasmussen, 34, Osseo, Wis., and Christopher Schmeltzer, 45, Merrill, Wis., with conspiring to distribute methamphetamine and to possess methamphetamine with intent to distribute.  The indictment alleges that Rasmussen was involved with more than 500 grams of methamphetamine, and Schmeltzer with more than 50 grams of methamphetamine, based on their participation in the conspiracy.

With this indictment, 10 people have now been charged as members of a conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine that operated in the central Wisconsin area from June 2013 to May 2016.  The following individuals previously have been indicted as members of this conspiracy:

  1. Joseph Kujawa, 37, Oakdale, Minn.;
  2. Kyle Quintana, 23, St. Paul, Minn.;
  3. Jacob Loose, 24, Wausau, Wis.;
  4. Patrick Keenan, 29, Wausau;
  5. Jaimie Pankow, 32, Wausau;
  6. Anthony Rogers, 24, Wausau;
  7. Andrew Nelson, 31, Merrill, Wis.; and
  8. Karen Zais, 48, Merrill.

Rasmussen was arrested early this morning in Merrill, and transported to Madison for his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen L. Crocker this afternoon.  Rasmussen was detained in federal custody.  His next court appearance has been set for June 23.  A summons was issued for Schmeltzer, and he will make his initial appearance in federal court in Madison on June 23.

Because of the amounts charged in the indictments returned against the above-listed defendants, most of them are facing 10-year mandatory prison terms if convicted.  Rasmussen, if convicted, is facing a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years, and a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.  Schmeltzer, if convicted, is facing a mandatory minimum of five years, and a maximum of 40 years in federal prison. 

The charges against these defendants are the result of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation; Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Drug Enforcement Administration; Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, Special Investigations Unit; Wausau Police Department; Merrill Police Department; and IRS Criminal Investigation. The prosecution of this case will be handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber. 

You are advised that a charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Drug Trafficking
Updated June 15, 2016