Police informant accused of stealing money, giving police bakin

By Jeffrey Pieters

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

A former police informant is being held on three felony charges after he allegedly stole money given to him for a controlled drug buy and gave police a bag of baking soda that he claimed was crack cocaine.

Joseph Addison Simmons, 28, of Winona, faces two counts of representing a noncontrolled substance as a narcotic and one count of theft.

According to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday, Simmons was a confidential informant for the Southeast Minnesota Narcotics Gang Task Force in March when he was instructed to buy up to 9 ounces of cocaine from a Rochester drug dealer.


Simmons was given $9,500 for the transaction. He was fitted with a radio transmitter and sent to the dealer’s apartment on March 31. He returned with $2,350 and about 15 ounces of white powder in a bag. The powder was sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis and determined to not be a narcotic.

Deal unravels

Officers searched Simmons’ apartment on March 31 and found that $3,400 of the buy money was missing and an empty box of baking soda in a garbage container.

The dealer told police that Simmons had contacted him to buy between 4.5 and 9 ounces of cocaine. He told Simmons he didn’t have that much. Simmons came to his apartment anyway. He asked for a bowl and some baking soda. He mixed the baking soda and water in the bowl and heated it in the microwave. The dealer gave Simmons some bags and told him to weigh and package a quantity.

The dealer said Simmons paid him $3,600 for 3 ounces of cocaine he wanted to receive the next day and gave him $150 to repay a personal debt.

The dealer said Simmons put some more of the money in his shoe and his jacket. Police did not find those stashes of money when they searched Simmons when he returned from the controlled buy.

Drug recipe

Police reviewed a recording of the transaction and heard Simmons asking for baking soda and running the microwave. Police were immediately suspicious of the "drug" when they received it, because it was warm, wet and far heavier than it should have been.


Simmons faces up to three years in prison and a $20,000 fine for the two drug-related charges and up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the theft charge.

His bond was set Tuesday at $75,000. He returns to court June 22.

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