WINNEBAGO — Charges allege Winnebago’s mayor and his son had an illegal cannabis growing operation in the city.
Mayor Scott Robertson, 67, and Jacob Robertson, 46, face two felonies related to unlawful cultivation of cannabis plants and two felonies related to aiding and abetting and conspiracy in Faribault County District Court.
A criminal complaint filed against them Friday states investigators reported finding 240 cannabis plants growing at Winnebago properties owned by the Robertsons. Minnesota allows up to eight plants to be legally grown at home, as long as no more than four are mature.
The mayor didn’t respond to requests for comment left on his phone and email as of late Monday.
The complaint alleges he told police his son might have eight plants at a property on Main Street. He reportedly denied any plants were growing at another property on 340th Avenue before later saying he had planted 200 in greenhouses.
The father and son previously had a licensed hemp cultivating operation in the city, according to the complaint. The license expired in December, although they reportedly hadn’t registered any hemp plants with the state since 2021.
Hemp by law is defined as seeds and plants with a THC concentration below 0.3%. Plants on the Robertson properties, according to the complaint, matched strains with THC content between 29-32%.
Scott Robertson is at least the fourth mayor in south-central Minnesota to be charged with felonies since 2021, joining Pemberton’s former mayor and Good Thunder and Waseca’s current mayors.
Cases are ongoing against Good Thunder mayor Robert Anderson for alleged embezzlement of public funds and Waseca mayor Randy Zimmerman for alleged perjury about whether he lived within city limits before his election. Former Pemberton mayor Perry Mortensen received a 90-day jail sentence in 2023 related to a conviction for criminal sexual conduct with a minor.
An investigation into the Robertsons began in January 2023 after an anonymous tip to the South Central Drug Investigation Unit. An agent requested the Minnesota Department of Agriculture conduct an inspection of the properties shortly afterward.
The state agency provided advance notice about the inspection as is required, the complaint states. Around the notice time the agent heard reports from witnesses about the Robertsons using an enclosed trailer to remove plants from the properties, followed by the inspection turning up no crops inside in February 2023.
Another anonymous tip last month reignited the investigation. The agent subpoenaed electrical usage records for the properties and reported finding “patterns suggestive of active cultivation of a large number of plants through January 2024.”
On Wednesday the agent reported smelling unburnt marijuana near the Main Street property and saw Jacob Robertson entering and leaving it. The son reportedly then drove and parked near the 340th Avenue property.
Law enforcement officers used search warrants to conduct a raid on the properties Thursday, finding 55 plants at Main Street and 185 plants at 340th Avenue. Plants inside the properties were labeled with names such as “Lady Kush,” “Gorilla Cookies,” “Cap N Kush” and “Kongzilla.”
Agents said they also found a box of seeds addressed to Scott Robertson during the search, along with financial information indicating a $360,000 profit distribution plan.
The father’s initial court appearance is set for Friday, while the son has a court hearing set for March 25.
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