11-year-old Dakota County boy turns in mom, stepdad over pot stash

  • Article by: HERÓN MÁRQUEZ ESTRADA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 15, 2011 - 9:21 PM

The woman, a Dakota County probation supervisor, put on leave.

After months of fuming over marijuana smoke in his home, an 11-year-old Dakota County boy decided enough was enough.

The boy snapped pictures of a couple of pounds of marijuana on a dresser in the bedroom of his mother and stepfather, police say, then had the cellphone images forwarded to the Dakota County Drug Task Force.

The task force raided the Ravenna Township home and, as a result, Heidi Christine Siebenaler, 40, a Dakota County probation supervisor, is on paid administrative leave and charged with fifth-degree possession of marijuana, according to a criminal complaint filed last week by the Washington County attorney's office.

Also facing charges is her husband, Mark Siebenaler, 40, the alleged owner of the marijuana, who told police the weed is for medicinal purposes, although that still doesn't make it legal in Minnesota. He is being charged with possession and intent to distribute.

"These allegations raise moral concerns and legal concerns," said Washington County Attorney Pete Orput. "It's disappointing when someone in law enforcement gets caught breaking the law. In this case it is particularly disappointing."

The marijuana was found in the couple's home near Hastings during a raid by the drug task force on Oct. 25.

"The home regularly smells of burnt marijuana smoke," sheriff's deputy Dan Bianconi wrote in the search warrant after interviewing the 11-year-old boy. "Often times he [said he] is unable to escape the smell without going outside."

The 11-year-old lives in the house as does his 8-year-old brother.

Court documents indicate that the marijuana smoking has been an issue for months and possibly even years.

In the search warrant, Bianconi noted that the boy complained to his mother several times about the odor and that "she has told him that marijuana use is 'not that bad.'"

The boy's biological father also told investigators that, within the past three years, his son had taken some of the marijuana from the home to school.

Bianconi said that school authorities were not notified but that the dad confronted the mother about the incident "before other schoolchildren were exposed to the marijuana."

Pot medicinal, couple say

Heidi Siebenaler was hired by Dakota County in 1996 as a probation officer and promoted to supervisor last year.

She was placed on leave on Nov. 2, and county officials said there is no internal investigation. That could change once the criminal matter is resolved, officials said.

Calls to the couple were not returned Tuesday, but in a TV interview with KMSP, they said the dope was for medicinal purposes because the stepfather suffered a brain injury about 20 years ago.

"I smoke marijuana and I'm not ashamed to say it," Mark Siebenaler said on camera.

The couple also said that the marijuana was kept away from the kids and that Heidi Siebenaler did not know it was in the house.

"I live in this house and I've never smelled marijuana in the house," Heidi Siebenaler said.

Those statements are at odds with the criminal complaint and the search warrant filed by the drug task force.

In the criminal complaint, investigators say that Mark Siebenaler "admitted that his wife ... knew of the marijuana in the home."

During the raid, task force members said they found scales and drug paraphernalia, weapons and about 8 pounds of marijuana.

Officers also said they went to a spot where the stepfather grew marijuana, according to the search warrant.

Authorities were alerted to the marijuana about three weeks ago when the boy complained about the smoke to his biological father while talking to him on his cellphone.

The father had the boy photograph what the son described as a leafy substance he saw stuffed into Wal-Mart bags in the bedroom, then the boy forwarded the photos to his dad, who contacted the Dakota County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators said the photos showed about 2 pounds of marijuana, an amount more than what would be typical for personal use.

"Larger quantities," Bianconi wrote in the search warrant, "are more commonly found with those who distribute for profit or to sustain addiction."

Heron Marquez • 952-746-3281

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