Former U research assistant charged with running meth lab

University police are investigating if he used any stolen school property while cooking in a St. Paul storage unit near campus.

Anne Millerbernd

A former University of Minnesota research assistant stands charged for running a meth lab out of a storage unit near the St. Paul campus and school officials are investigating if he stole University property.

On Tuesday, Matthew Lee Krause, 30, faced one felony count for manufacturing methamphetamine, according to charges filed in Ramsey County District Court. According to the criminal complaint, a witness told St. Paul police Krause cooked meth on campus and stole University property, including chemicals, in the past.

University police Chief Greg Hestness said University police are investigating if any property inside the St. Paul Minikahda Storage unit is the University’s, but there’s no evidence that Krause manufactured meth on campus and officers aren’t investigating those allegations.

After receiving a call late Friday night from the witness, who claimed Krause stole his tools, officers approached the storage unit, heard someone inside and smelled a strong chemical odor, according to the complaint.

Officers saw a meth lab in “plain view” and a woman in a chair who appeared passed out, according to the complaint. Officers arrested Krause, the witness and the woman early Saturday morning, and as of Wednesday afternoon, Krause was still in custody.

If convicted, Krause could serve up to 30 years in prison and pay a $1 million fine.

While searching the area, officers found a set of several master keys to the University and a box of pseudoephedrine — an ingredient used in manufacturing meth — in Krause’s Jeep Cherokee, according to the complaint, which also said Krause rented five storage units at the storage facility.

Krause was an undergraduate student at the University from fall 2010 to spring 2013, but didn’t graduate, according to a University statement. He worked as an undergraduate research assistant in plant biology in the College of Biological Sciences until June 2013.

Lisa Hallberg, the assistant public defender who is represeting Krause, said her client is relying on a state drug test to prove the beakers in the storage unit didn’t contain meth and that the St. Paul police department has a history of inaccurately identifying substances.

She said the allegations surrounding the stolen University property isn’t a part of the case.