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Wortman guilty on two of eight counts

Sentencing will be May 15

NEW ULM — After nearly five hours of deliberation Friday, a jury of six men and six women found a 48-year-old Mankato man guilty on two counts of an eight-count drug sale case in Brown County District Court.

Joel Wortman, 50 Teton Lane, Mankato, was found guilty of felony 3rd-degree aiding/abetting drug sale and gross misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a child as a juvenile petty offender. He was acquitted on three counts of felony 3rd-degree drug sale, two counts of soliciting/conspiring a juvenile to commit a criminal act and one count of gross misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Wortman’s attorney Kevin Green of Mankato said he would make a motion for an acquittal judgement. Judge Robert Docherty said that could be done in writing within 15 days.

Wortman’s sentencing date was set for 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 15 in Brown County District Court.

Wortman collapsed from his chair to the courtroom floor after the verdict was read. He was medically assisted by a Brown County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer.

“The jury gave a lot of time and thought in this case. Obviously, we’re pleased with the verdict,” said Assistant Brown County Attorney Paul Gunderson.

“I expected all or nothing,” said Green.

“He should’ve been a stepdad who stopped it, but instead he was a drug dealer who profited,” said State’s Attorney Paul Gunderson of New Ulm. “Look at the evidence. He had access to 90 Suboxone pills. The story of him taking Suboxone for pain is not justifiable. The story about him using sublingual film medication is a smoke screen.”

Gunderson said the story of the two drug buys by an undercover agent (UC) to the juvenile girl in June 2013 at Traulich Estates is that Wortman is the source.

“He and the girl planned on selling pills. She told the UC he supplied her. What is her motive to lie about that?” Gunderson told the jury. “Look at the text messages and body wire recordings between the UC and the girl. They are consistent.”

Gunderson held Wortman’s prescription record that showed he had the pills to sell.

“This is more than just a story. It’s important to put all the elements together,” Gunderson said. “They’re not speculation and irrelevant details. The State has proven this case beyond a reasonable doubt. He’s guilty.”

Wortman’s attorney said Wortman was taking film medication, not tablets since 2013. In addition, he said terrible psychological things will happen to Wortman if he doesn’t take three Suboxone pills a day. Why would he sell them, Green asked.

“This whole thing was cooked up by the 15-year-old girl and a confidential informant who was working off his time,” Green said. “This whole thing is a crazy kid’s story. Why would Mr. Wortman sell 10 of his pills to get $55? It’s a frame job by a disgruntled step daughter. She’s got something else going on.”

In his rebuttal, Gunderson said Green talked about speculation and irrelevant details which don’t equal reasonable doubt.

“Don’t dwell there. That’s where they want you to be. They want you to focus on irrelevant details,” Gunderson said. “Focus on the evidence. Pills, text messages. You can clearly tell something is helping her (the juvenile female) out. Look at the officer testimony, buy recordings, they’re tangible.”

The jury began deliberating at 3:28 p.m. Friday. They returned to the courtroom to listen to two drug buy recordings make on June 21, 22, 2016.

They reached their verdict at about 8:30 p.m.

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