A Chetek resident and former real estate business owner who faced methamphetamine-related charges for more than three and one-half years was ordered to serve out the remaining 256 days of a one-year jail term, and will be on probation for three years, following his sentencing Wednesday, June 23, in Barron County Circuit Court.
Quinlan D. Thomas, 56, risks an 18-month prison sentence if he violates terms of probation imposed June 23 by Circuit Court James Babler.
The sentence includes penalties for a total of four felony offenses, court records said. They include:
• Possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, in connection with a December 2018 arrest. A 12-member jury found Thomas guilty on the charge last April.
• Methamphetamine possession, in connection a 2017 arrest.
• Two counts of felony bail jumping. Thomas pleaded guilty to the 2017 meth possession charge, and no contest to the 2018 bail jumping charges, after an agreement with county prosecutors.
According to court records and criminal complaints, the plea bargain ends a case that dates back to late November 2017, after Chetek police found a bag containing more than six grams of meth in the back seat of a squad car where Thomas had been sitting earlier in the officer’s work shift.
A bag containing meth residue was found in Thomas’ pocket during a search incident to arrest.
The following Dec. 13, Thomas was arrested in connection with alleged drug deals at his place of business. At the time, Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said the arrest took place at the end of a months-long investigation and four controlled buys that were made by a confidential informant.
In April 2018, Thomas pleaded not guilty to nine drug-related charges in connection with both cases.
On Dec. 4, 2018, investigators listened to a conversation between Thomas and a police informant, allegedly discussing yet another meth sale. While Thomas was being processed for admission to the county jail later that day, he was allegedly found in possession of two packages of meth.
The 2018 case went to trial on April 21, 2021, and a 12-member jury found Thomas guilty of possession of meth with intent to deliver. The court entered a judgment of guilty on two other felony bail jumping counts. Bond was revoked, and Thomas was jailed.
A week later, Thomas reached a plea deal in connection with the 2017 charges. He agreed to plead guilty to felony meth possession in exchange for dismissal of the five other felony counts, court records said.
The case has focused unwelcome attention on the Chetek community over the past three and one-half years. Darryl Dahl, Chetek Chamber of Commerce president, when asked about the case said, “It’s a shame (Thomas) went down that path, but I don’t think it reflects on our business community.”
Dahl added: “Chetek businesses are an amazing group of owners and staff that are very active in the community and a positive influence to the area. There’s no place for that kind of activity here or anywhere. (Thomas) wasn’t involved with the Chamber to my knowledge.”
Chetek Police Chief Ron Ambrozaitis said he could not comment directly about Thomas as another court case was still open. But like Dahl, said it was a serious but limited incident.
“Meth is an issue with law enforcement and is of high priority with the Chetek Police Department wherever it is sold.” Ambrozaitis said. “This issue, I believe, was an isolated issue. Our local businesses are some of the best people I have had the pleasure to work with and will continue to support in any way I can,” Ambrozaitis said.