WORTHINGTON — A Maple Grove man was sentenced to 360 days jail in for what the state prosecutor categorized as the second-largest drug bust in Nobles County.
Following at least two continuances, Shawn M. Kaar, 36, was sentenced Tuesday in Nobles County District Court after being found guilty of first-degrees drug possession and sale, both felonies, by a stipulated facts trial earlier this year.
Kaar was arrested and charged in March 2018 after a Minnesota state trooper discovered 342 pounds of marijuana in Kaar's vehicle. Kaar’s arrest was made within a few miles — and around the same time — of Luvar C. Ivy, who was convicted in the county’s largest drug bust case (482 pounds). The state prosecutor said the state believes the two incidents were related.
As part of his sentence, Kaar will be required to serve an initial 90-day jail sentence beginning Aug. 20. The remaining 270 days will begin on Aug. 20, 2020, unless Kaar receives a favorable recommendation from the Rock Nobles Community Corrections.
Kaar was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine or perform community service work.
The sentence was a departure from the 56-78 month prison commit the Minnesota sentencing guidelines outlined. The departure was a recommendation by both the state prosecutor and Kaar's defense attorney, who agreed that Kaar's participation in transporting the significant quantity of marijuana was under duress or coercion.
“This whole scheme to run these hay bales of pot was to pay off a debt and feed his (heroin) addiction,” said Kaar's defense attorney, David McCormick, at an earlier hearing.
Prosecutor Matthew Loeffler agreed, saying that Kaar appeared to be acting as a "mule" for the true owners of the marijuana.
Throughout the hearings, Kaar's chemical dependency was discussed openly. It was reported that he completed a 30-day inpatient treatment in November 2018. He told Fifth Judicial District Judge Gordon Moore he hit nine months of sobriety on Monday.
Prior to the March 2018 incident, Kaar had no felonies on his record.
Moore agreed to the departure, adding that he's proven to be amenable to probation.
"I'd rather have you working and contributing to your family than being a drain on the taxpayer and sitting in a prison," he said.
Moore cited who he called a predecessor to articulate a warning not to return to him in court on another offense.
"You better not tear the tag off a mattress," Moore warned Kaar, of not blowing the opportunity he was being given. "Much is given. Much is expected."