A Colfax, North Dakota, man and a Wyndmere, North Dakota, man are facing multiple felony drug and theft-related charges in Richland County, North Dakota. Kevin Stacy Lee, 58, Colfax, and Joshua Karl Braaten, 36, Wyndmere, made their initial court appearances Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Lee has been charged with 10 felonies committed between 2019-2020 in Richland County District Court, including methamphetamine possession with intent to deliver and four counts possession of stolen property. Braaten has been charged with four felonies committed between 2019-2020 in Richland County District Court, including two counts possession of stolen property.
While all four of Braaten’s charges are Class C felony-level, Lee has been charged with nine Class C felonies and one Class B felony.
Through an investigation of the Southeast Multi-County Agency (SEMCA) drug task force, Lee allegedly willfully possessed methamphetamine with the intent to deliver, as well as methamphetamine paraphernalia. Methamphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance.
On Jan. 29, 2020, SEMCA agents assisted the Richland County Sheriff’s Office in serving an arrest warrant on an individual other than Lee or Braaten at a Colfax address. When officers arrived at the location, documents state, the found the third party and Lee. The third party’s probation officer requested that officers conduct a probation search of the location.
Officers seized a glass pipe with white residue, several straws cut at a 45-degree angle and a folder paper that contained a white crystal substance. The substance field tested positively for methamphetamine, documents continue.
Lee allegedly said that when officers entered the residence, he dropped methamphetamine to the floor and covered it with a garbage sack. He also allegedly said he planned to use the methamphetamine with the other individual.
Possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver is a Class B-level felony. Possession of drug paraphernalia, in this case, is a Class C felony because Lee has a prior conviction for possession of non-marijuana paraphernalia.
Based on a sheriff’s office investigation, Lee allegedly knowing received, retained or disposed of four individuals’ five separate items, all with a single or combined value exceeding $1,000 but not $10,000, on or about July 29, 2020, in Colfax.
The items, according to court documents, were:
• a Chrysler 300M found in a field east of Lee’s shop, appearing to have been dismantled for parts with doors stored in the trees north of the shop; it was reported stolen out of Fargo in 2018
• a Jeep Grand Cherokee, found on Lee’s property and reported stolen out of West Fargo in 2018
• drain tile, found on Lee’s property, which he stated was taken in April or May 2020
• two lawnmowers, a Huskee LT 4200 riding lawnmower and a Yard Machine MTD lawnmower, stolen from a Sargent County, North Dakota, individual
In all cases, documents continue, Lee allegedly responded to the property. The Chrysler was hauled to his property and he knew it was stolen. The Jeep was brought to his property by a couple of men who he didn’t know.
Lee also allegedly said he helped two other men steal two rolls of drain tile because he had standing water in his front yard and that buried some of the tile in his residence’s front yard. According to documents, Lee told officers that Braaten transported the lawnmowers to his property.
Additionally, a John Deere lawnmower covered by a tarp was found in the yard. Lee allegedly admitted he and Braaten took the lawnmower from a shed at a Wyndmere church. The lawnmower was reported missing in September 2019.
The lawnmower is one of several items of property Braaten allegedly knowing received, retained or disposed of or knowingly took or exercised unauthorized control of. The others include:
• tools and equipment from a company’s truck, reported missing on Dec. 31, 2019 and including a winch, a yellow metal handle, an Exofit Nex harness and more; these were all found at a Wyndmere location, documents state
• a Chevy K-10 Scottsdale, reported stolen by the owner of additional stolen property allegedly possessed by Lee; the pickup was found in Lidgerwood, North Dakota
• the drain tile found on Lee’s property, which Lee said he, Braaten and a third party stole
Braaten allegedly admitted to taking all items of property. Regarding the drain tile, documents continue, Braaten said he acted as lookout and helped bury some of it. In each case, the stolen items had a separate or combined value of more than $1,000 but less than $10,000.
Also on July 29, 2020, law enforcement officers observed two glass smoking devices lying on a trailer parked in the driveway by Lee’s shop. Both pipes were the kind commonly used to ingest methamphetamine and had burnt residue inside of them, documents continue.
Shortly after, on Sept. 9, 2020, law enforcement officers went to Lee’s residence to speak with him regarding the investigation into stolen property. A SEMCA agent observed what appeared to be a glass stem to a methamphetamine smoking device sticking out of Lee’s left front pocket. After the pipe was retrieved, a search of Lee turned up a red cut straw in the pocket. A field test indicated the presence of methamphetamine in the pipe.
Shortly after, on Sept. 23, 2020, officers executed a search warrant at Lee’s residence. Lee allegedly said there would be paraphernalia found. Several items, including a “loaded” syringe and baggies and pipes with residue, were found.
Court records as of Friday, Jan. 8 state that Lee is providing his own legal defense. Braaten, according to records, is represented by Public Defender Don Krassin. Richland County Assistant State’s Attorney Casey Moen represents the state of North Dakota. Judge Bradley Cruff presides.
Judge Cruff set bail and ordered drug testing for both Lee and Braaten. While other court appearances have not yet been scheduled for Lee, Braaten is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Feb. 22, 2021.
The maximum penalty in North Dakota for a Class B felony is 10 years imprisonment, a $20,000 fine, or both. The maximum penalty for a Class C felony is five years imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both.
Lee was confined in the Richland County Jail, Wahpeton, as of Friday afternoon. Braaten was released on bail on Thursday, Jan. 7, a jail official said.