Oconto meth suspect pleads guilty

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McNamara to be sentenced July 22 in U.S. District Court

Kevin Murphy, Times Herald Correspondent

An Oconto man faces 10 years to life in prison after pleading guilty Friday in federal court to conspiring last summer with two other individuals to distribute up to a pound of methamphetamine.

Benjamin T. McNamara, 33, Kristine L. Olson, 32, both of Oconto, and Gregory M. Ives, 41, of Mound View, Minnesota, were indicted on methamphetamine distribution charges.

Olson pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge on April 19, and Ives is scheduled to plead guilty next month.

According to court documents:

Authorities learned of Olson’s methamphetamine trafficking in June when Oconto County Sherriff’s investigator Justen Ragen met with several confidential informants who said Olson was selling methamphetamine in Oconto County and surrounding areas.

One CI then made several controlled drug buys from Olson during the next few months.

On Sept. 13, authorities obtained a search warrant to place a GPS device on Olson’s vehicle. On Sept. 22, the vehicle was tracked to Ives’ residence in Mound View. Ives had a felony escape warrant pending from Eau Claire County.

On Sept. 27, Olson’s vehicle was tracked again traveling to Minnesota. On the next day, Olson was a passenger in the vehicle that McNamara was driving back from Ives’ residence when authorities stopped it in Wisconsin. Authorities recovered about 7.5 grams of methamphetamine in one bag and another 1.5 grams in 11 separate bags.

McNamara and Olson admitted to buying methamphetamine from Ives and sold it in the Oconto area.

The pair were initially charged in Oconto County Circuit Court with methamphetamine offenses, but their cases were subsequently transferred to federal court. Ives was indicted in federal court in February.

Ives was alleged to have sold about 0.5 pounds of methamphetamine for $4,500 last fall to a confidential informant working with state and federal authorities.

At the time he was selling methamphetamine with Olson, McNamara was on probation from an armed robbery conviction in Eau Claire County. His other prior convictions include burglary and methamphetamine possession.

Trials had been set for May 6 for the three defendants.

McNamara’s sentencing is set for July 22 before U.S. District Judge William Griesbach.

All three defendants remain in custody.

Olson also faces 10 years to life in prison, the statuary penalty associated with a conviction for distributing up to one pound of methamphetamine. Her sentencing is set for July 16.

In exchange for their guilty pleas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to recommend a reduced sentence.