A Twin Cities butcher is facing criminal charges in Anoka County for selling wild venison over the counter at his meat shop.
Matthew H. Sand, 34, of Carver, was charged earlier this month with four gross misdemeanors for allegedly breaking a state law that prohibits the commercialization of game. No court dates have been set for the owner of Circle Pines Sausage Haus, but he could face jail time if convicted.
Mark J. Sand, 62, of Eden Prairie, also was charged as part of the two-year investigation by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He is Matthew Sand’s father.
Their attorney, John Price, said the case likely will be watched by other independent meat shops. The normal practice at the Sausage Haus has been to congregate hunters’ venison to make large batches of sausage, Price said. The system created leftovers and investigators noticed a sign for customers inside the Sausage Haus that said extra venison sausage was for sale.
Some of the extra venison products sold to the undercover officers, including “Mark’s Venison Beer Stix” and “Venison Jalapeno Cheese Bratwurst” were labeled “Not For Sale,” according to the complaint.
“My clients never meant to do anything illegal,” Price said. “They just want to be compliant.”
Undercover DNR officers started working the case in 2017. According to the criminal complaint, agents executed a search warrant at Sausage Haus in November 2018. At the time, officers explained to Matthew Sand that his business could continue processing venison for hunters but was not allowed to sell excess venison products.
Less than a year later, the complaint said, undercover officers again purchased venison products from Sausage Haus made from other people’s deer. Two misdemeanor charges against Mark Sand also allege that the meat shop accepted untagged deer.
Greg Salo, DNR Enforcement Division assistant director, said investigators spoke to hundreds of Sausage Haus customers and determined that “substantial” amounts of meat were involved.
He said the case against the Sands is “all to protect against the commercialization of the species.”