Dubuque men plead guilty to meth charge related to apartment fir - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque men plead guilty to meth charge related to apartment fire

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Two Dubuque men have pleaded guilty to a federal methamphetamine charge related to a Dubuque apartment fire that happened on Feb. 20.

John Starks Sr., 46, and Casey Duhme, 24, were each convicted of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine near a school.

The two pleaded guilty in federal court in Cedar Rapids on June 25 and 26 as part of a plea agreement.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Iowa, both men admitted they agreed with others to manufacture methamphetamine from Feb. 16 through Feb. 20. 

Starks and Duhme both admitted they'd obtained pseudoephedrine during that time. Starks also admitted he purchased lye. Both substances were intended for use in the meth-making process.

The two were making the meth in the Dubuque apartment building where Starks lived, in the 1000 block of White Street, at the intersection of White and East 11th Streets.

The apartment housed multiple families and was located across East 11th Street from Prescott Elementary School.

The attempt to make meth caused a fire to break out in the upstairs bathroom of Starks' apartment during the early morning hours of Feb. 20. As a result, Starks received significant burns on his hands.

Within a few minutes of the fire starting, Starks, Duhme and a third person fled the apartment. They did not call 911 or alert anybody about the fire.

STORY: Neighbors displaced by meth fire speak out

Several minutes later, a police officer doing routine patrol noticed smoke coming from the apartment building and evacuated the residents. The building's roof collapsed shortly after the evacuation.

The building is no longer usable.

The men's sentencing before U.S. District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after pre sentence reports are prepared.

Starks and Duhme remain in the U.S. Marshal's custody. They each face a mandatory minimum sentence of one year imprisonment and a possible maximum sentence of 40 years behind bars plus a $2 million fine, $100 in special assessments and at least six years -- up to a life term -- of supervised release following any imprisonment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Lightfoot is prosecuting the case and the Dubuque Drug Task Force, Dubuque Police Department and Dubuque Fire Department investigated the case.

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