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St. Paul man convicted of friend’s fatal overdose in Lake Elmo

A 24-year-old St. Paul man who sold fentanyl-laced pills to a friend who then overdosed and died at his Lake Elmo home has been sentenced to a year in prison and seven years of supervised probation.

Dane William Okerstrom pleaded guilty to third-degree murder in April for the Jan. 7, 2023, death of Vaughn Hugo Wolf. The 19-year-old bought two “M30” pills from Okerstrom the night before and died of a fentanyl overdose.

Danish William Okerström (courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office)

Washington County District Judge Siv Mjanger followed the terms of a plea deal Monday, which included up to a year in prison and a remaining seven-year presumptive sentence. In granting the downward departure from state sentencing guidelines, Mjanger cited Okerström’s remorse; amenability to probation and chemical dependency treatment; and that Wolf’s family agreed to the departure.

Assistant Washington County Prosecutor Thomas Frenette successfully argued for Okerstrom to be jailed. “I don’t think this is a special case that warrants work release,” he said. “This is a serious crime, and quite frankly, it was an avoidable crime.”

While noting that Okerstrom has successfully completed nearly a year of programming with the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge, Frenette said “this is going to be the most difficult time for the defendant” on his road to recovery.

Mjanger agreed and said, “You have a life here. You have an opportunity not to end up like Vaughn. I agree with mr. Frenette that when our hearing is done today and no one is watching… it will be the hardest time of your life.”

Mjanger added, “It doesn’t do me any good to put you in jail for a year. But I have a family here who lost their son, and there has to be a sanction. There has to be some kind of penalty that says you can’t do things in this world that take other people’s lives.”

was arrested the same day

According to the criminal complaint, deputies were called to the Lake Elmo home around 1 p.m. on Jan. 7 after a report of an unconscious man and found Wolf’s father performing chest compressions on him. Deputies administered a dose of Narcan on Wolf, who did not regain consciousness.

The police found out what Wolf did the night before. After completing his shift as Davanni’s delivery driver, he worked out at Planet Fitness in Roseville. Just before 10 p.m., he went on Snapchat and arranged to buy two “benefits” — or Percocets — from “Dane.”

Wolf went to a friend’s house, where Wolf and another friend “sniffed” the drug. Wolf came home shortly after midnight.

Deputies found Wolf’s cell phone on a nightstand next to his bed and messages showed the drug transaction with “Dane” happened at the Taco Bell on Larpenteur Avenue in St. Paul. Law enforcement arranged a transaction with Okerstrom at Taco Bell on Jan. 7 and arrested him. He had a bottle of 50 blue M30 pills.

A search of Okerström’s bedroom turned up a 9mm handgun for 2½ grams of ketamine in nearly 20½ grams of THC concentrate;

Okerstrom’s cell phone showed several conversations related to drug transactions between him and Wolf dating back to May 2022, the complaint says.

“This is your second chance”

Wolf’s family described him in court as someone who was shy, talented, witty and loved. “And he knew what he wanted, and he wanted to do something great with life,” his brother Ethan Wolf said.

Despite his struggles with addiction, “he got better, became a man and learned from his failures before his life began,” his brother said.

Whatever the meaning, he told Okerström, “this is your second chance that my brother never got.”

Okerstrom told the court that recovering from addiction and removing himself from a “destructive lifestyle” is something he “should have done a long time ago.”

“I can look my family and friends in the face now and tell them that I am making choices that contribute to a positive impact in society and for myself,” he continued. “My only regret is that it came at the expense of a dear friend.”

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