Winnebago mayor, son accused of illegal marijuana grow operation

The mayor of Winnebago and his son are accused of running an illegal marijuana-growing operation.

Mayor Scott Robertson, 67, and Jacob Robertson, 46, were each charged last week with four felony counts of 1st-degree unlawful cultivation of cannabis – more than 23 plants, in Faribault County Court.

An investigation began in January 2023, when the South Central Drug Investigation Unit received an anonymous tip that a large number of cannabis plants were being grown at a commercial-grade greenhouse on 340th Ave in Winnebago.

Mayor Robertson and his son were identified as the owners and operators of the property.  The father and son had previously run a licensed hemp cultivation operation through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, according to a criminal complaint.   Investigators say the men had an active license in 2023, but hadn’t registered a hemp crop per regulation guidelines.

SCDIU agents requested a site inspection to test the Robertsons’ 2023 plants, which required giving advanced notice to the licensee.  The complaint says the two men backed an enclosed trailer onto the property and used it to remove the plants inside the greenhouses.  The MDA inspected the property in February 2023 but found no growing crop.

In January 2024, investigators again received an anonymous tip that the Robertsons were growing a large number of cannabis plants in the same greenhouses.  Agents also learned that Scott Robertson owned commercial property on Main St in Winnebago.  A Faribault County deputy reported smelling a strong odor of fresh marijuana coming from the Main St property.

Agents learned from the MDA that the Robertsons’ hemp license had expired in December 2023 and they had not registered a hemp crop since 2021.

The complaint says electrical usage records from BENCO suggested a pattern of “active cultivation of a large number of plants through January 2024.”

On February 7, SCDIU agents observed a “strong smell of unburnt marijuana,” at the Main St building, according to the complaint.  Agents also noted the windows were obscured.  Jacob Robertson was allegedly seen at both locations that same day.

Search warrants were executed at both properties on February 8.  The complaint says 55 flowering plants that field-tested positive for marijuana were discovered at the Main St building, along with a box of seeds addressed to Scott Robertson at a 1st Ave SW address.  The plants had a THC concentration greater than allowed for registered hemp plants, according to court documents.

The complaint says agents found another 185 plants, a five-gallon pail of apparent marijuana seeds, and a financial transaction notebook at the 340th Ave address.  The notebook allegedly showed a total profit of $360,000, and contained detailed descriptions of the rows and strains in the greenhouses.

The complaint says Scott Robertson initially denied growing plants at the 340th Ave location, but later admitted to plating 200 plants. Both father and son made comments during the searches that they were the only parties involved in growing the plants, according to the charging document.

The men were arrested, but have since been released from the Faribault County Jail.






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