Minneapolis firefighter arrested on drug charge investigation

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 27, 2012 - 11:01 PM

He had meth, police say. Anoka County charges also pending.

A Minneapolis firefighter was arrested at a fire station Tuesday after investigators said they had found drugs on him and two other people in the station.

Lawrence Anthony Wajda Jr., 42, of Coon Rapids, was arrested about 11 a.m. Tuesday at Fire Station No. 19, on the University of Minnesota campus, according to police spokesman Sgt. Steve McCarty.

Suspected methamphetamine was found on Wajda at the time of his arrest, according to police. A 33-year-old New Hope woman, who is not a firefighter, was also arrested at the station in possession of suspected Ecstasy, McCarty said. A 37-year-old St. Paul man found with suspected marijuana in a nearby vehicle also was taken into custody but later released. Wajda and the woman were in the Hennepin County jail on Tuesday night.

Authorities also searched Wajda's home.

Minneapolis Fire Chief John Fruetel said Tuesday he was "deeply concerned and disappointed" by the allegations.

"I expect that personnel in this department maintain the highest professional and ethical standards," Fruetel said in a statement. "I have no doubt that the women and men of the Minneapolis Fire Department serve the people of this city with courage, integrity and respect. Unfortunately it is cases like this where the actions of a single individual can cast a shadow on the entire department."

Wajda, who has been a city firefighter since 1991, faces other drug charges in Anoka County.

According to the criminal complaint, as part of a sting in August 2010, an Anoka County Sheriff's Office detective overheard "what sounded like a drug deal" in Wajda's garage in Coon Rapids.

Later, Wajda was stopped on his motorcycle and a meth pipe, marijuana and other drug paraphernalia were reportedly found in a saddlebag.

A call for comment from Wajda's attorney wasn't immediately returned. Wajda's trial is scheduled to begin next month.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495 Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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