10th man sentenced in federal court over meth operation

A 10th individual was sentenced to prison by a federal judge for his role in a meth lab operation in Lincoln County that was broken up by an investigation by a joint task force of area law enforcement agencies from March 2009 to January 2010.

Christopher D. Schmeltzer, 40, of Merrill, was given a 27 month sentence by Chief U.S. District Judge William M. Conley in Madison on Friday. His prison term will be followed by three years of extended supervision and was ordered to pay $3,376 in restitution for cleanup costs of rural property were the lab was located.

Because Schmeltzer was sentenced in federal court, he must serve the entire sentence without the chance of parole.

He was charged with conspiring to possess pseudoephedrine with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine as part of a conspiracy that was broken up by a task force of area law enforcement agencies. The extensive and ongoing operation involves the Merrill Police Department, Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation along with federal agencies. The task force has resulted in the convictions of 10 people involved in six separate meth cooking operations in 2009.

Three additional indictments were unsealed in January charging six more men with conspiring to manufacture meth and acquire the necessary ingredients in operations ranging from fall of 2008 through the end of 2009. These men are Bernard W. Robertson, 41, Tomahawk; Michael B. Ritchie, 40, Merrill; Charles “Mike” Bear, 38, Schofield; Larry G. Dole, 32, Merrill; Jody R. Simon, 39, Merrill; and Antonio P. Lance, 30, Merrill.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert A. Anderson is handling the prosecution of these cases.

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