A judge has ordered an Apple Valley man to pay $1,521 in restitution and serve 10 days of community service for inhaling Freon from his neighbors' air conditioners.
Brentyn E. Krueger, 37, pleaded guilty to felony theft in Dakota County District Court for inhaling the substance from five units near his home.
A criminal complaint gave this account:
Police first found Krueger in November 2010 "slumped over the air-conditioning unit" of a neighbor's home, "his torso lodged between the unit and the house."
Krueger, who was unconscious, quickly became lucid and told officers he had been inhaling the coolant from the air-conditioning unit.
The next night, police found Krueger in the same neighborhood. He became confused and wandered into another neighbor's house when he thought police were coming. Again, he told police he had been inhaling Freon.
Krueger was taken to the hospital a few weeks later after he was found unconscious in a third neighbor's yard.
Another resident told police her air-conditioning unit had not been working properly and said a man, later identified as Krueger, had been found unconscious between her and her neighbor's home. He was removed by ambulance that time, too.
After the charge was filed, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said it was the first time he had prosecuted such a case -- and the first time he'd heard of someone inhaling Freon. Inhalant abuse typically peaks in people at age 14 or 15, he said.
Inhalants generally produce a high similar to drinking alcohol, according to the Alliance for Consumer Education. Because the effects are short term, users tend to "huff" repeatedly, resulting in hallucinations and often loss of consciousness.
Huffing can kill, and Freon is an especially deadly inhalant, the alliance said.
At sentencing Friday, June 22, District Judge Michael Sovis also ordered Krueger to five years of probation with more than a dozen requirements, including chemical dependency treatment. Krueger received credit for a day served in jail.
Krueger will pay the $1,521 to the neighbors for the Freon he stole.
A phone message left for Krueger was not returned Tuesday.
Maricella Miranda can be reached at 651-228-5421. Follow her attwitter.com/mariwritesnews .
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