Ronald Lee Hott was charged in February 2016 with four felony level marijuana crimes — two in the first degree (one for excess of 50 kilograms of marijuana and the other for 25 kilograms), one in the second degree and one in the third degree.
Douglas County Attorney Chad Larson dismissed the charges on March 29, three days before Hott’s trial was scheduled to begin. The charges were dismissed “without prejudice,” which means Larson could decide to reinstate the charges at a later date.
When asked why the charges were dropped, Larson said that Hott has several other cases pending right now — most notably, a Hennepin County case that is set for trial this month — and the outcomes of those cases could affect how the prosecution handles this case.
Hott is no longer in custody at the Douglas County Jail.
The higher-degree charges were connected to Hott’s criminal history. He was previously convicted of drug crimes, including possession of more than 1.4 grams of marijuana in a motor vehicle in 2013.
The Douglas County case began after a sheriff’s deputy stopped at a residence at 301 North Park St. in Garfield to speak with the owner of the house about foreclosure paperwork.
Hott, who wasn’t listed as the house owner, answered the door after removing two boards and a deadbolt lock, according to the criminal complaint. He told the deputy he didn’t live at the house and was just visiting.
While speaking with Hott, the deputy smelled a strong odor of marijuana and also noted other “drug precursors” that indicated a marijuana growing operation, according to the criminal complaint.
The sheriff’s department worked with the West Central Minnesota Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force and obtained a search warrant.
Investigators found more than 150 marijuana plants in various