Southern Minnesota mayor, son arrested on marijuana cultivation charges; accused of hundreds of thousands in profits

Scott Robertson, the 67-year-old mayor of Winnebago, was arrested Thursday afternoon on alleged drug charges, according to the Faribault County Jail Roster.

His son, 46-year-old Jacob Robertson, was also taken into custody Thursday.

As initially reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS sister station KAAL, the South Central Drug Investigation Unit stated Friday, Feb. 9, that both men were accused of cultivating around 240 plants believed to be marijuana at three Winnebago addresses.

Minnesota law allows adults to grow up to eight cannabis plants in a home, with no more than four being mature, flowering plants.

Faribault County Court charged the men on Friday afternoon with two counts of first-degree cannabis crime for unlawfully cultivating more than 23 cannabis plants, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree cannabis crime for unlawfully cultivating more than 23 cannabis plants and one count of aiding and abetting first-degree cannabis crime for unlawfully cultivating more than 23 cannabis plants.

According to Commander Ben Johnson with the Owatonna Police Department, an investigation began in early 2023, involving the South Central Drug Investigation Unit (SCDIU), Faribault County law enforcement and numerous other agencies.

According to court documents filed Feb. 9, the SCDIU received an anonymous tip that someone on the 18000 block of 340th Avenue in Winnebago was using greenhouses there to cultivate large amounts of cannabis in Jan. 2023.

Court documents allege that the property owners, the Robertsons, had previously operated a hemp cultivating business, but had not registered a hemp crop in 2023 — or since 2021.

Court documents note that hemp products must have a THC concentration of less than 0.3% in order to be legally grown in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture provided advance notice that staff would inspect and test any growing plants, and witnesses told the SCDIU around that time that the Robertsons had moved all of the plants into a trailer and driven away from the 340th Avenue property, according to court documents.

In February of 2023, the MDA inspected the site and found no crops — hemp or otherwise.

In January of 2024, the SDCIU allegedly received another anonymous tip that the Robertsons were cultivating cannabis at the 340th Avenue property, according to court documents.

The SCDIU did not ask the MDA to check the site this year, per court documents.

Charging documents allege that the Robertsons also own commercial property on Main Street in Winnebago, and when a SCDIU officer approached the building, a strong smell of “unburnt” marijuana was detectable from the street.

Court documents further allege that as cannabis requires high-power grow lights, the SCDIU looked into the electricity use at the 340th Avenue and Main Street properties, and found use “suggestive of active cultivation of a large number of plants through January 2024.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, court documents allege that Jacob Robertson was seen at the Main Street and 340th Avenue sites, and an agent could once again smell marijuana from Main Street’s sidewalk.

On Feb. 8, SCDIU agents received permission to search the locations for cannabis plants.

According to court documents, there were 55 separate plants at the Main Street building, all flowering, which tested positive for marijuana.

Court documents allege that the plants were labeled with “known cannabis seed and flower products,” such as “Frosty Kong,” “Lady Kush,” “Sour Pop,” “Cap N Kush,” “LEP Gold,” and more.

“Each of these names matches a known cannabis seed/plant with reported THC concentrations of approximately 30%,” court documents read.

Charging documents further allege that law enforcement found a box of seeds from “elev8,” a cannabis seed supplier, addressed to “S. Robertson” at his home on 1st Avenue southwest in Winnebago.

Jacob Robertson allegedly resides at a property adjacent to the 340th Avenue site.

Law enforcement allegedly found another 185 plants at the 340th Avenue address, plus a five-gallon bucket of apparent seeds and a notebook with financial transaction information “indicating partner product splits with shares of $120,000, for a total profit distribution of $360,000.”

Court documents allege that when the Robertsons operated a hemp business, they had three other partners.

However, the Robertsons allegedly told law enforcement that they were the only two involved in growing and caring for the plants.

According to court documents, a separate search warrant at Scott Robertson’s home found documents from “elev8,” including seed pamphlets.