A St. Clair man found asleep in a vehicle outside a gas station with a meth lab inside last month was found in a similar situation last week.
Ronald J. Wertenberger Jr., 28, was arrested June 6 at 11:06 a.m. with suspected meth and drug paraphernalia when Franklin County deputies responded to a report of a person sleeping in a car in the 200 block of Coleena Court south of Highway AM in the Villa Ridge area.
Wertenberger was charged in Franklin County Associate Circuit Court with possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia. He is being held in the Franklin County Jail on a $10,000 bond.
According to the probable cause statement filed in the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, Wertenberger was found asleep inside the vehicle with a glass smoking pipe and cellophane wrapper containing a crystal substance on his lap.
Deputies seized a white powder, a coffee filter with brown rock and a scale next to where Wertenberger was seated.
Wertenberger told deputies the pipe and crystal inside the cellophane were his, but the other items did not belong to him, authorities said. Wertenberger said he does not own the car.
Preliminary tests indicated that the crystal, powder and rock substances all were methamphetamine,
St. Clair Arrest
The charges come about three weeks after a May 16 arrest at the FastLane gas station where St. Clair police seized a meth lab in a vehicle Wertenberger was found in slumped over a steering wheel.
Officers woke him and removed him from the vehicle. Wertenberger was arrested on two active warrants for traffic violations.
A search of the vehicle yielded a meth lab, and narcotics that were seized. The Multi-County Narcotics and Violent Crimes Enforcement Unit was called to the scene to assist with the investigation.
Wertenberger had not yet been charged with crimes related to the May meth lab.
Wertenberger has a lengthy criminal history, including charges of resisting arrest in 2011 and 2014.
In 2014, he was found guilty in Crawford County of second-degree burglary and given five years’ probation.
He also has several felony drug convictions.
In 2009, authorities issued felony charges against Wertenberger and another man accused of possessing chemicals and other precursors used to manufacture methamphetamine.
Wertenberger, who was 20 at the time, was charged with possession of precursors and possession of pseudoephedrine with intention to manufacture methamphetamine.
The charges are the result of an investigation in November 2009 after Pacific police received a report of a man buying precursors at the Orscheln Farm and Home store.
Officers took the man into custody when he came out of the store. At that point, three other men in a car drove off the parking lot and around the back of the building, according to reports. They then got out of the car and fled on foot.
Pacific officers called in members of the county narcotics unit to assist in the investigation.
Officers searched the area and found the suspects lying in a field behind the store. Police seized precursors in the vehicle and during a search of the field, recovered two boxes of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine, according to reports.
Wertenberger initially was arrested on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court in a case involving possession of meth precursors, authorities said. That case stems from an arrest in August 2009.