- A Freeborn County man has been sentenced to nearly nine years in prison for the theft of more than 1,000 pills from a Renville County pharmacy.
Spencer Troy Sternhagen, 34, of Emmons, pleaded guilty July 13 to felony charges of first-degree drug possession and second-degree burglary, and to petty misdemeanor theft. He was sentenced Aug. 4 in Renville County District Court to 107 months in prison on the drug charge. No sentence was pronounced on the other two charges.
He was to begin serving his time immediately at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud, and given credit for 83 days of time served. He also had to provide a DNA sample.
Under Minnesota law, offenders are required to serve at least two-thirds of a sentence in custody and may be allowed to serve the remaining time on supervised release. According to the state Department of Corrections website, Sternhagen is expected to be released April 24, 2028.
In November 2020, a window was broken at the Thrifty White Pharmacy in Renville, and 1,079 dosage units of controlled substances were reported stolen.
On surveillance video, Sternhagen was seen entering the Thrifty White Pharmacy through a broken window and video also showed him inside the store. The drugs he stole included Adderall and hydrocodone.
Sternhagen and a woman had been seen on surveillance video earlier that night at Prairie's Edge Casino near Granite Falls.
An investigation of the license plate of the vehicle led to a woman dating Sternhagen and to their home in Freeborn County and the town of Emmons.
A January 2021 search of Sternhagen's home found a backpack, Nike Jordan 23 shoes, jacket, face mask and gloves matching clothing seen on the surveillance video.
The woman said she had seen him with a large pack of pills after their trip to Prairie's Edge.
When interviewed by law enforcement, Sternhagen admitted to breaking into the pharmacy and taking a large quantity of prescription drugs which he said were for personal use and to sell.