JEFFERSON — A Fort Atkinson man accused of delivering the heroin that ultimately caused the 2016 overdose death of his 23-year-old nephew appeared in Jefferson County Circuit Court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing on a separate heroin delivery charge.
Kenneth M. Strese, 45, was bound over for trial on the charge of conspiracy to manufacture or delivery of heroin. While this charge is different from the first-degree reckless homicide charge Strese faces, Assistant District Attorney Monica Hall said it likely will be used as “other acts,” to impeach Strese as a witness in a potential trial for the separate charge.
This conspiracy charge stems from a 2018 sting operation run by the Fort Atkinson Police Department and the Jefferson County Drug Task Force.
In June 2018, a confidential informant told Fort Atkinson Police Detective Brandon Sachse that he had purchased heroin from Strese several times. Later that day, the informant — while wearing a wire — attempted to purchase heroin from Strese at his Fort Atkinson apartment, according to the criminal complaint.
Strese told the informant he could give him half a gram of heroin for $80 — but that he needed to go to Rockford, Ill., to pick it up, the complaint states.
The next day, Strese and the informant planned to exchange the drugs in Johnson Creek — but while police were driving to the planned location, Strese was seen driving in the opposite direction.
Strese altered the meeting spot to Piggly Wiggly in Cambridge, but after police drove past the grocery store’s parking lot, it was determined that Strese appeared to be doing his own counter-surveillance, according to the complaint.
Because the drugs never changed hands, Strese has been charged with conspiracy to deliver.
This charge carries a maximum sentence of 12 years and six months in prison and a $25,000 fine.
On the separate drug-induced homicide charge, Strese faces 72 years in prison.
A pretrial conference for both cases has been scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 10:40 a.m. while a status conference for both has been set for Friday, Jan. 17, at 9:30 a.m.