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Crack-smoking Duluth mom gets second chance from judge

Tari Lauer

DULUTH - A Duluth mother who put her 3-year-old twins in danger by exposing them to her crack cocaine smoke was given probation Thursday -- and with it a chance to turn her life around and resume a nursing career.

Tari Lee Lauer, 41, pleaded guilty in St. Louis County District Court last month to a charge of child endangerment.

St. Louis County prosecutor Mark Rubin said that because Lauer accepted responsibility for her actions, he would defer to the sentencing recommendation of an Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer. Judge Shaun Floerke accepted that recommendation and sentenced Lauer to two years of supervised probation.

If the defendant follows the conditions of the probation and stays off of drugs and alcohol, the crime will be wiped from her record.

Lauer told the court she "made a very poor decision" by exposing the children to drugs because she chose the safety of her home to take drugs, rather than on the street.

"I am healthy, sober and in recovery," Lauer told the court. "I realize the severity of my actions. I realize I put my children in great danger and harm ... Every day I wake up and regret what happened."

Lauer has had her twins taken away from her and she's going through a divorce. She said she has custody of two older sons.

Floerke told the defendant that a felony conviction would have prohibited her from what she was licensed and trained to do [as a licensed practical nurse] and "by all accounts something you are gifted at doing," he said.

The judge told Lauer he wants to see her on March 30 to check on her rehabilitation.

According to the criminal complaint, a St. Louis County social worker made an unannounced visit to Lauer's home last April. The defendant had received in-patient treatment for her drug addiction and admitted to the social worker that she had relapsed and started using crack cocaine.

The twins were taken to St. Mary's Medical Center to be tested for drugs. The girl's urine tested positive for cocaine. Her twin brother's hair specimen tested positive for cocaine. There was no allegation that the children were given the drug.

Rubin credited the two social workers -- Paula Stocke and Theresa North -- for uncovering the crime. He said their "phenomenal supervision" and "extra level of caring" made the twins safe.