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Stephen Montemayor

Reporter | Federal Courts and Law Enforcement
Phone: 612-673-1755

Stephen Montemayor covers federal courts and law enforcement. He previously covered Minnesota politics and government.


A native of Kansas City, Montemayor lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two cats. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism and enjoys camping, travel and a good beer.
Recent content from Stephen Montemayor
Seizures of fentanyl pills have been on a steady rise in Minnesota: authorities recovered more than 417,000 last year, up 127% over 2022.

Charges: Man caught with 170 pounds of fentanyl, meth, cocaine on return trip from Mexico to Minnesota

The more than 60 pounds of fentanyl allegedly found in Rito Gaxiola Jr.'s Jeep would rival a Minnesota record that involved six people and four months of trafficking by mail.
Michael Lee Kurkowski

As trial starts, Owatonna man pleads guilty to child porn charges, threatening to murder sex abuse victim

Michael Lee Kurkowski was arrested in 2022 while traveling to the home of a former victim, carrying zip ties and weapons in his luggage.
Jacob Swartout, a Sergeant with Savage Police, bumps his fist against the bumper of a fallen officer's squad car Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 outside the Bu

Ensuring those barred from owning guns don't get them comes down to 'honor system'

Shannon Cortez Gooden had been prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition for 16 years when he killed two Burnsville police officers and a paramedic last week.
Medtronic reported unexpectedly strong profits for its third quarter.

Ex-Medtronic consultant convicted of insider trading; Twin Cities insurance agent acquitted

Doron "Ron" Tavlin was convicted on one count of conspiracy to commit insider trading and 10 counts of securities fraud and aiding and abetting securities fraud. The same jury found David Jay Gantman not guilty of all charges
Kimberly Handy Jones flanked by Clyde McLemore left and her sister Nanette Adams held a poster of her son Cordale Handy who was killed by St. Paul Pol

Judge reduces record payout in 2017 police killing of Black man in St. Paul

A federal judge this month concluded that the City of St. Paul should pay far less than the $11.5 million a jury awarded the mother of a man shot dead in 2017.
Members of the Burnsville Police Department gathered outside the department's headquarters among three memorials for the slain first responders.

Suspect in shooting of Burnsville officers and medic had violent past, lost right to own guns

Two orders for protection were filed against the man by women he shared children with. Authorities say the 38-year-old killed himself Sunday after fatally shooting two Burnsville police officers and a paramedic.
An Uber customer checked the status of his ride on his phone while waiting at the intersection of Lagoon Avenue and Hennepin Avenue late Saturday nigh

Federal sentences imposed in Minneapolis carjacking ring targeting Somali rideshare drivers

A federal judge imposed sentences of between 5 and 8 years this week on three Minneapolis men, with one more to come next week.
Andrew David Munsinger, shown here handling ammunition in screenshots provided in a federal criminal complaint, is barred from possessing firearms or

FBI arrests Redwood Falls man identified as alleged member of Nazi group

Before his arrest for illegally possessing ammunition, Andrew David Munsinger allegedly plotted to build unserialized firearms and talked about his "goals to support the white race."
Nine more charged in latest wave of Feeding Our Future federal fraud case

Nine more charged in latest wave of Feeding Our Future federal fraud case

Newly unsealed indictments outline the charges against a group of relatives and a married couple running a Minneapolis grocery store.
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Third man sentenced in August 2020 arson at Target headquarters

Outburst aimed at judge cut Wednesday's hearing short in St. Paul.
FBI agents captured this photo of River William Smith wearing a Punisher mask as he practiced shooting at a Prior Lake gun range this year.

Nearly 7 years in prison for Twin Cities man accused of stockpiling for armed police conflict

Federal judge did not impose maximum 10-year sentence sought by prosecutors who warned River Smith posed "unique danger to the public."
Iranian, two Canadian nationals facing federal charges in Minnesota for alleged murder-for-hire plot

Iranian, two Canadian nationals facing federal charges in Minnesota for alleged murder-for-hire plot

According to charges, "criminal network" plotted to kill Iranian dissidents, opposition activists.
A court exhibit shows images of the Polygroup Quickset Christmas tree.

Patent infringement lawsuit in Minneapolis had an unlikely star: fake Christmas trees

After staring at trees for more than a week, jury awards $42 million to Taiwanese company.
FBI agents captured this photo of River William Smith wearing a Punisher mask as he practiced shooting at a Prior Lake gun range this year.

Sentencing rescheduled for Savage man who called for armed conflict, shared extremist views

River W. Smith, 21, of Savage, is now set to be sentenced on Jan. 30.
FBI agents captured this photo of River William Smith wearing a Punisher mask as he practiced shooting at a Prior Lake gun range this year.

On eve of sentencing, beliefs of Twin Cities man who discussed killing cops are under microscope

FBI says River W. Smith, 21, celebrated mass shootings, prepared for armed conflict with police.
Onamia man gets 24 years in federal prison after assaulting girlfriend with unserialized gun

Onamia man gets 24 years in federal prison after assaulting girlfriend with unserialized gun

Prosecutors called for decadeslong sentence for Justin Cutbank, citing his history of felonies and the pervasive nature of crimes against Native American women.
Lori Saroya, shown in a blue suit and hijab, takes her seat after being sworn in as the Ward 1 City Council Member Wednesday, January 4, 2023, in Blai

Dispute between Blaine council member, Muslim affairs group hurtles forward with new defamation suit

Lori Saroya, ex-leader of CAIR in Minnesota, is suing her former employer — three years after it tried suing her.
Authorities said drug traffickers used stuffed toys to conceal fentanyl shipments to Minnesota in a recent record-high bust.

DEA reports boom in Minnesota fentanyl pill seizures for 2023

The state outpaced its Midwestern counterparts in busts involving the potentially deadly opioid.
Thomas Rhodes walked out of a state prison on Jan. 13, 2023, in Moose Lake, Minn.

Minnesota man wrongfully imprisoned 25 years in wife's drowning death sues officials

Thomas Rhodes, freed last year, was the first to be released under new Minnesota Conviction Review Unit.
Christian 'Quest for Authentic Manhood' instructor sues Minnesota prison leaders for program ban

Christian 'Quest for Authentic Manhood' instructor sues Minnesota prison leaders for program ban

The Corrections Department ended the decade-old program last year, saying it excluded gay men and promoted dangerous gender stereotypes.
La’neria Wilson, 11, waited to be taken into surgery at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. Wilson was struck by gunfire beneath her righ

Federal charges filed against man who shot Minneapolis girl with assault-style rifle New Year's Day

Prosecutors charged James William Turner, arrested last week, with illegally possessing ammunition as a felon.
Supreme Court refuses to consider ex-MPD officer Tou Thao's federal sentence appeal

Supreme Court refuses to consider ex-MPD officer Tou Thao's federal sentence appeal

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals previously upheld his conviction for violating George Floyd's civil rights.
Using ankle monitor data, Feds nab man accused in armed robberies of Twin Cities mail carriers

Using ankle monitor data, Feds nab man accused in armed robberies of Twin Cities mail carriers

Suspect was on pretrial release for identity theft and fraud charges in Georgia at time of the November robberies.
A still image from video surveillance that prosecutors say shows Deandre Franklin entering 2400 Elliot Ave. S., before a March 28, 2022, shooting homi

Feds use weapons charge to arrest man linked to two Minneapolis homicides in 2022

According to the ATF, Deandre Franklin is a 'prime suspect' in Dec. 19 killing of man previously charged with stealing French bulldog puppies.
Tyrece Matthews celebrates Thanksgiving with his girlfriend Sha at her home in Brooklyn Center, Minn. on Thanksgiving Day Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023. "I

The silent toll of gun injuries: 'Survival is only the beginning'

The epidemic of deaths from firearms only tells part of the story. In the shadows, hundreds of Minnesotans hurt by gunfire struggle to repair their lives.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is part of coalition that filed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a federal ban on bump

Minnesota joins coalition urging Supreme Court to uphold ban on bump stock devices

The nation's high court is expected to rule next year on whether federal machine gun law applies to bump stocks.
Star Tribune settles class-action lawsuit over video data sharing

Star Tribune settles class-action lawsuit over video data sharing

The claim stemmed from concerns over information sharing with Facebook about videos watched on the Star Tribune website.
Sao Lou Vu, Tou Ger Xiong's mother, greeted St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter before a vigil to celebrate the life of her son Saturday, Dec. 23, 2023, at E

Family, friends of St. Paul's Tou Ger Xiong gather in remembrance

Loved ones of the Hmong-American activist and performer killed recently in Colombia, who gathered Saturday in Woodbury for a memorial, said they're still reeling from his loss.
Multi-state probe yields federal gun charges against man who allegedly threatened ex for months

Multi-state probe yields federal gun charges against man who allegedly threatened ex for months

Shaninth Michael Ray was arrested in Austin, Minn., this year and found with the same revolver depicted in threatening videos sent to woman, her family.
U.S. District Judge Wilhelmina Wright said she will retire effective Feb. 15.

Judge Wilhelmina Wright, first Black woman on Minnesota's federal bench, will retire in February

Wright, who served across three state court branches, was appointed by President Obama in 2016.
State Appeals Court Judge Jeffrey Bryan’s nomination to the U.S. District Court in Minnesota was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.

After Senate confirmation, Judge Jeffrey Bryan will be Minnesota's first Latino federal jurist

The Court of Appeals judge was twice a finalist for the Minnesota Supreme Court since 2018.
Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger speaks to the media during a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023 in Minneapolis. Officials announced cha

Feds go after fentanyl supply in latest crackdown on Mpls. gangs

Wednesday's announcement is the third wave in an initiative to counter gang violence in Twin Cities, charging 14 new alleged members or associates of the gang.
Acquitted of federal charges, Hamel man now wants DOJ to remove news release from web

Acquitted of federal charges, Hamel man now wants DOJ to remove news release from web

Steven Dornsbach says web search results are hurting his family's concrete construction company.
Two semi-automatic Glock pistols show how easily they can be converted into fully automatic firearms. The one at right has an illegal device called a

'An evil arms race': Switch devices are turning more handguns into machine guns

Small parts the size of a Lego are filling communities with modern-day machine guns that can empty an entire magazine with a single trigger pull.
Writing the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, Justice Margaret Chutich likened the shotgun parts to a clarinet, a musical instrument that she pointe

Minnesota Supreme Court: Pieces of a gun enough to be charged with illegal possession

In 4-3 decision, state's high court upholds 2021 conviction based on discovery of disassembled shotgun parts.
Three “switches” purchased from Rafael Wesley and Kyrees Johnson by an undercover officer, according to federal charges.

Federal charges: Sting disrupts Snapchat group that sold illegal 'switches,' ghost guns in Minnesota

Undercover agents monitored and set up controlled buys of illegal machine gun conversion devices throughout this past spring.
Gisela Castro Medina

Castro Medina sentenced to three years for role in Lazzaro sex-trafficking scheme

She pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and obstructing the investigation.
Body found after girl, 11, disappears while swimming in Lake Nokomis

Body found after girl, 11, disappears while swimming in Lake Nokomis

Hennepin County Sheriff's Office says girl reportedly went underwater while swimming on east side of Minneapolis lake.
Sheriff: Motorcyclist killed after fleeing state trooper in northwestern Minnesota

Sheriff: Motorcyclist killed after fleeing state trooper in northwestern Minnesota

The Friday evening pursuit and crash in Becker County remain under investigation.
More than 1,800 trace requests arrive daily at the ATF Tracing Center in Martinsburg, W. Va. The agency now sits on an 18-month backlog of documents n

Minnesota police are recovering record numbers of guns. Tracing them is hampered by federal law.

As gun crimes soar, so do the requests for tracing. But tight resources and a 1986 law make it harder to follow the trail of guns used in crimes.
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announces charges against 14 Minneapolis gang members with possession of machine guns and fentanyl trafficking Wednesday at

Feds charge 14 Minneapolis gang members in push to curb gun crimes

Alleged leaders and others from the Minneapolis Lows gang are being charged for the first time under an ongoing federal initiative.
Marquisha Wiley's father Kevin Wiley holds up a framed photo of his daughter Marquisha as his wife Beth Wiley speaks during the sentencing hearing for

Man gets nearly 37-year prison term for Truck Park shooting in St. Paul

Terry Brown fired the shot that killed bystander Marquisha "Kiki" Wiley during a gun battle in the Truck Park bar on W. 7th Street.
Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao, left, and his attorney Robert Paule arrive for sentencing for violating George Floyd’s civil rights outs

Appeals court affirms federal conviction of Tou Thao in George Floyd's killing

Already a federal inmate, Thao faces sentencing on the state charges Monday.
The life of a gun: Tracing its path from Texas to the black market to a mass shooting in St. Paul

The life of a gun: Tracing its path from Texas to the black market to a mass shooting in St. Paul

A handgun used in one of the worst mass shootings in St. Paul history began its journey to Minnesota from a sprawling factory in Texas. The story of this pistol's short, violent life is like that of thousands of legally purchased handguns that turn up in crimes across Minnesota each year.
Verne Gagne, left, competes against Kinji Shibuya during a wrestling match at the Minneapolis Auditorium in 1954.

Why is Minnesota such a hotbed of professional wrestling?

Locals helped develop the sport back when wrestling was dominated by major regional centers.
Las Vegas man who fired first shot during deadly mass shooting in St. Paul sentenced to 29 years

Las Vegas man who fired first shot during deadly mass shooting in St. Paul sentenced to 29 years

More than a dozen people were hit by gunfire that night in October 2021. Marquisha Wiley, 27, died.
Justice Department finds pattern of discriminatory policing in Mpls.

Justice Department finds pattern of discriminatory policing in Mpls.

The Minneapolis Police Department routinely engaged in a pattern of racist and abusive behavior, according to a Justice Department investigation. The city will now begin negotiating a court-enforceable consent decree.
Scott County gun store employee charged with possessing 'switch' devices

Scott County gun store employee charged with possessing 'switch' devices

Benjamin Zwack, 29, of Burnsville, is accused of selling 3D-printed devices that render guns fully automatic.
Federal prosecutors announced sweeping charges against a long list of defendants they said hail from two of the three most prominent Minneapolis stree

Feds target Minneapolis 'Highs,' 'Bloods' gangs for gun, drug crimes

45 alleged gang members are charged in the "first wave" of a new shift in the ongoing federal violent crime strategy.
Three juveniles killed in two separate ATV crashes Saturday in Minnesota

Three juveniles killed in two separate ATV crashes Saturday in Minnesota

Both accidents are under investigation.
The Duluth building where a fire Saturday left two people dead and two firefighters injured. It was the building’s third fatal fire in as many years

Two dead in third fatal fire at same Duluth apartment building since 2020

Two firefighters were also injured; multiple cats dead.
Evidence seized by law enforcement after Jay Olson sold an informant ghost guns, accessories for $20,000 in April 2022.

Five-year prison sentence for 22-year-old Sauk Rapids man who made, sold 'ghost guns'

Jay James Olson pleaded guilty to selling the guns and parts including machine gun conversion devices to an informant last year.
Federal appeals court revives legal challenge to Minnesota insulin safety net program

Federal appeals court revives legal challenge to Minnesota insulin safety net program

Pharmaceutical trade group first sued in 2020, alleging constitutional violations.
Anton Lazzaro to be sentenced Aug. 9 for federal child sex trafficking conviction

Anton Lazzaro to be sentenced Aug. 9 for federal child sex trafficking conviction

Lazzaro, attorneys plan to appeal.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melinda Williams speaks at a press conference after the conviction of Anton Lazzaro for conspiring to recruit and pay 15- and

Anton Lazzaro found guilty in child sex trafficking case

Jurors convicted Lazzaro — described by prosecutors as "Minnesota's Jeffrey Epstein" — after about two hours of deliberation Friday.
Anton Lazzaro and his attorneys during opening statements at his federal sex trafficking trial Wednesday.

Stage set for final arguments in Anton Lazzaro's child sex trafficking trial

Prosecutors expect alleged victims, families to watch both sides make their final cases to jury Friday morning.
Anton Lazzaro testified again Wednesday in the federal criminal proceedings against him.

Anton Lazzaro calls cash 'gifts,' says sex with underage girls not related

Wednesday's proceedings were delayed by overnight revelations of new evidence.
Anton Lazzaro testified in his defense against federal sex trafficking charges Tuesday.

Lazzaro admits to sex with minor girls but denies he had a sex recruiter

The wealthy GOP operative will resume testimony Wednesday.
Anton Lazzaro and his attorneys during opening statements at his federal sex trafficking trial Wednesday.

Mother of alleged Lazzaro sex trafficking victim testifies: 'I was horrified'

The prosecution will rest Tuesday; the judge expects the jury to get the case this week.
Testimony: Anton Lazzaro paid sisters cash for sex

Testimony: Anton Lazzaro paid sisters cash for sex

Third day of testimony also included a witness who described how "Mr. Tony" picked girls up from slumber party.
Anton Lazzaro and his attorneys during opening statements at his federal sex-trafficking trial Wednesday.

Anton Lazzaro's co-defendant testifies about recruiting young girls for him to pay for sex

Gisela Castro Medina, of her alleged recruiting: "I think it was wrong, I think it was disgusting, I think it was horrible."
Anton Lazzaro in a courtroom sketch from the opening day of his sex-trafficking trial Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.

Teen testifies as Anton Lazzaro's federal child sex trafficking trial underway in Minneapolis

Prosecutor: "This case is about a wealthy man who paid tens of thousands of dollars to have sex with minor girls."
Anton Lazzaro

Jury selection starts Tuesday in Lazzaro federal sex trafficking trial in Minneapolis

Final legal motions were settled Monday before trial begins.
Rick Duncan, former Chisago County sheriff (in white shirt).

Former Chisago County sheriff charged with sex assault sued over new blackmail allegations

Rick Duncan has twice been charged criminally, sued in federal court over sex crime allegations.
A bag of pills containing fentanyl.

Suspected fentanyl trafficker caught in Minnesota with enough pills for 2 million deadly doses

Federal charges detail seizure of fentanyl pills from man suspected of bringing them from California.
Hennepin County K9 officer Thor was captured on video biting then-Champlin police officer Daniel Irish in a still from footage recorded by Hennepin Co

Hennepin County K-9 bit, infected Champlin police officer during pursuit, lawsuit says

Ex-Champlin officer Daniel Irish has filed an excessive force suit against Hennepin County Sheriff's Deputy Keith McNamara over the March 2022 incident.
Two face federal charges in hourslong carjacking ordeal across Twin Cities

Two face federal charges in hourslong carjacking ordeal across Twin Cities

Law enforcement tracked down suspects using "Find My iPhone" feature
U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger, at podium, announced charges Monday against 10 more people in the ongoing $250 million federal food aid fraud case involvi

Feds charge 10 more in Feeding Our Future fraud investigation

The new indictments bring the total of those charged to 60 in $250 million fraud case in Minnesota.
Anton Lazzaro’s trial is set to start March 20.

New allegations as child sex-trafficking trial nears for wealthy GOP donor Anton Lazzaro

The 32-year-old Lazzaro is due in court March 20, with jury selection to begin the next day.
Federal jury returns $43M judgment against Precision Lens for illegal kickbacks

Federal jury returns $43M judgment against Precision Lens for illegal kickbacks

Bloomington company, its majority owner vow to appeal verdict reached after six-week trial.
Athena Mihos Psyhogios Henderson, 93, is remembered as a 'force to be reckoned with'

Athena Mihos Psyhogios Henderson, 93, is remembered as a 'force to be reckoned with'

Jailed in Greece for trying to free a political prisoner, she went on to tell her story in a 2018 memoir.
Crystal police Lt. Derrick Hacker in the evidence room at the Crystal Police Department, 2016.

Woman sues city of Crystal, police lieutenant for allegedly accessing her private information

Derrick Hacker was charged criminally last year with illegally accessing state driver's license databases.
Nekeya Moody

Lawsuit: Ramsey County deputies restricted woman's breathing on 2020 medical call

Deputies allegedly repeatedly said Nekeya Moody was "playing possum" after she went unresponsive.
Minnesota Department of Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell spoke at Wednesday's hearing at Stillwater prison.

Decree would have Minnesota pay disabled inmates $70K, change education

DOJ had alleged discrimination against disabled inmates who were not allowed modifications in GED programming.
Romance scams leave emotional scars, take deep financial toll

Romance scams leave emotional scars, take deep financial toll

The FBI said last year that romance scams clawed $1 billion from victims nationwide.