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Judge refuses to dismiss charges against Left of Center managers for selling alleged drug paraphernalia

In a decision and order signed Dec. 5, St. Croix County Judge Eric Lundell refused to dismiss charges filed in city court against the managers of Left of Center, an adult entertainment and tobacco shop in downtown Hudson.

In May 2012 Hudson police officers confiscated 25 products from the store’s shelves and wrote 25 tickets apiece for Brian E. Orcutt, Maple Grove, Minn., and Melissa J. Daniels, Coon Rapids, Minn., accusing them of possession of drug paraphernalia.

The Hudson municipal judge found Orcutt and Daniels guilty of 25 counts of violating Hudson city ordinances and ordered them to pay $240 per citation for a total of $6,000.

The two asked for a new trial in county court and paid the jury fee but then filed a motion to dismiss the charges. They argued that they were not the real party because, as employees, they had “no possessory interest in the drug paraphernalia.”

While the judge rejected case law offered by both sides, he did not dismiss the tickets.

“This case involves individuals who are neither simply employees nor are they officers of the corporation and as such, these factual circumstances fall somewhere in between the authorities cited by both parties,” wrote the judge.

He found that while Daniels and Orcutt were not officers or owners of Left of Center Inc., “they had sufficient control over the drug paraphernalia to be considered proper parties of interest.”

The judge noted that both testified they are responsible for ordering items in the shop; Daniels is the daughter of Chester Thomas, the controlling shareholder of the corporation; Daniels hired Orcutt; and both are managers of Left of Center.

Therefore Lundell rejected the Daniels and Orcutt’s motion to dismiss, and the county case remains open.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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