Tu-Uyen Tran, Forum News Service, Published February 20 2014
4 Grand Forks women accused of making meth at home near school
A search of the home belonging to Kathy Joan Kielty, 56, turned up equipment used to make the drug, according to court records.
She, Audrey Marie Morris, 65, Ashley Marie Brown, 24, and Tina Mae Metcalf, 51, are all charged with manufacturing meth within 1,000 feet of a school, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, the stiffest penalty under state law.
All appeared in state district court in Grand Forks Wednesday, the day after they were arrested, according to Carmell Mattison, the prosecutor in the case.
It may be the first time such charges have been filed in Grand Forks County, according to Mattison and State’s Attorney Peter Welte.
Mattison, who has been with the state’s attorney’s office since 2003, said Wednesday that meth labs are nothing new to the county but typically are in rural areas outside of town and, in at least one case, in the trunk of a car.
The Herald contacted Grand Forks Public Schools spokeswoman Tracy Jentz late Wednesday for comment but she could not be reached.
Tailed by agents
The Grand Forks Narcotics Task Force originally targeted Brown and Metcalf because agents had information suggesting the pair were involved in making meth, according to Mattison.
On Tuesday, agents tailing the women noted that they had gone to a pharmacy and bought medication containing pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in meth, court records say. The women unknowingly led agents to Kielty’s home at 921 32nd Ave. S. No. 15, and Morris’ home at 1218 S. 19th St.
A search of Kielty’s home that night turned up 97 tablets of the medication, various chemicals and equipment involved in making meth and a glass pipe with meth residue.
When agents interviewed her, she admitted making meth and explained how it was done, court records say. She said that several people, including Brown, Metcalf and Morris, had bought pseudoephedrine for her in return for some of the finished product.
Asked if agents are investigating other individuals, Mattison said she could not comment.
Agents searching Morris’ home the same night found baggies containing what they suspected was meth and various drug paraphernalia. When agents interviewed her, she said she had been buying pseudoephedrine for Kielty in exchange for a half gram of meth, court records say.
In addition to the meth-making charges, Morris faces charges of possessing meth and drug paraphernalia and Kielty faces a charge of possessing drug paraphernalia, each with a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Court records also say Kielty is on supervised probation and, when her parole officer requested a urine sample, the officer discovered she had been hiding a bottle with “clean urine” on her person.
She was convicted in Polk County in 2008 of possessing meth near a school, park or public housing, which is a felony, according to Minnesota court records.
The four suspects are scheduled to appear in court again March 19.
Stephen Lee contributed to this report.