Minnesota farmer fined $585 in raw milk caseGAYLORD, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota dairy farmer has been fined $585 for selling unpasteurized milk under a plea deal that ended his long-running legal battle with the state.
GAYLORD, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota dairy farmer has been fined $585 for selling unpasteurized milk under a plea deal that ended his long-running legal battle with the state.
Michael O. Hartmann, 59, of rural Gibbon, pleaded guilty Monday to just two misdemeanor counts out of an original nine that alleged he continued to sell unpasteurized milk and other dairy and meat products contaminated with E. coli and other pathogens despite an embargo and other state efforts to stop him.
Hartmann was fined $585, placed on six months unsupervised probation and ordered to comply with all state licensing and labeling laws within 60 days, The Journal of New Ulm reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/R8zgbm). Charges and warrants for Hartmann's wife, Diane, his brother Roger, and a woman who allegedly helped distribute his products were dismissed.
Assistant Sibley County Attorney Don Lannoye said his office didn't charge Hartmann with felonies because he didn't believe Hartmann intentionally harmed anyone.
"What needs to be done is get Mr. Hartmann in compliance with state regulations," Lannoye said. "I will contact the MDA (Minnesota Department of Agriculture) about the case. They will contact me if he violates probation and we'll be back in court."
State officials got warrants to search Hartmann's farm in 2010 after people allegedly got sick from consuming his milk, cheese and ice cream. The agriculture department began to investigate after the health department established his farm was the source of an E. coli outbreak that required at least eight Minnesota residents to get medical treatment. Officials concluded he was producing dairy products and meat under unsanitary conditions, and without proper labeling, inspection stamps or the required licenses.
The health department also attributed outbreaks of campylobacter and cryptosporidium to raw milk products from Hartmann Dairy.
Court records show that Hartmann still faces a lawsuit in Hennepin County filed by a parent who says his 2-year-old suffered permanent kidney damage from E. coli after consuming raw milk from Hartmann Dairy. The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 for dialysis and other costs to treat the boy's condition.
In another raw milk case, Alvin Schlangen, an organic egg producer from Freeport, was acquitted in Hennepin County last month on charges of violating the state's restrictions on raw milk sales. Minnesota law prohibits raw milk sales except directly to consumers on the farm where the milk is produced. Schlangen contended he operated legally as the middleman in a voluntary association of consumers who lease cows from Amish farmers, delivering milk to members mostly in the Twin Cities.
Schlangen, who was not implicated in any disease outbreaks, still faces similar charges in Stearns County.