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Woman sent to prison for meth involvement

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

Officials from a Rochester neighborhood association returned to court Thursday to urge a district judge to send a drug offender to prison.

Once again, their message was heard.

Olmsted District Judge Jodi Williamson sentenced Tammy Jo Hofbauer, 42, of 1606 Third St. N.E., to 7 years and nine months in prison.

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Defense attorney Rich McCluer asked the judge to depart from state guidelines, which called for the prison term, and instead give Hofbauer a chance to rebuild her life. He said Hofbauer was as much a victim as the neighbors.

Hofbauer pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree controlled substance crime. The charges were filed in December 2000, after authorities searched her home and found material related to the manufacture of methamphetamines. Authorities said she aided others in making the illegal drug in her home, in a tree in the yard and in a vehicle parked nearby.

McCluer said Hofbauer was a passive participant in the drug activity.

"It was a party house type atmosphere," he said. Others made the meth, he said, and "her house was used just as she was used by others."

Prosecutor Eric Woodford disagreed, saying authorities found meth-related items in her bedroom and in her possession.

"She used meth, and she knew what was going on," he said. "Maybe she didn't do the mixing (of the drug), but by letting her home be used, she played an integral role."

Mike LaPlante, president of the Eastside Pioneers Neighborhood Association, told the judge Hofbauer's home was a haven for meth activity.

Last week, Williamson sentenced Mark Adam Prom, 29, to more than six years in prison in connection with the case. In December, Toby James Bruce, 25, was sentenced to 41 months in prison. He lived at the Hofbauer home.

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"She is not a hapless victim of circumstances," LaPlante said, and he described fights outside, open fires, overpowering odors that came from the yard, trash everywhere and people using a tree to cook the toxic chemicals to make the drug.

Hofbauer disputed the claims from neighbors, saying she was harassed, not them. She said her yard was about the cleanest in the neighborhood.

Hofbauer will be given credit against the sentence for any time she's already served in jail. She must serve two-thirds of the sentence before she's eligible for release.

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