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Duluth man, a 'longtime problem' for police, sentenced to 14 years in prison

Once described by Duluth police as “a longtime problem for us,” for crimes ranging from carjacking to attacking someone with a hammer, of Elfred William Petruk will now have a long time to think about his crimes.

Petruk, 35, of Duluth, was sentenced to 14 years in prison Thursday for crimes that included carjacking a vehicle and making up a false confession to cover his actions.

U.S. District Judge Susan R. Nelson sentenced Petruk in federal court in St. Paul on two charges of obstructing justice and one carjacking charge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Minnesota said.

Petruk was convicted Dec. 11 following a three-day jury trial in St. Paul. He had been indicted on Nov. 12.

The indictment charged that on June 18, 2012, Petruk took a 1989 GMC Sierra pickup truck by force in rural St. Louis County. According to evidence presented at the trial, Petruk assaulted the victim with a hammer after the victim chased Petruk in an attempt to reclaim his vehicle.

As the trial approached, Petruk tried to solicit false alibis on his behalf and attempted to concoct a scheme to obtain the false confession, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Petruk has a long list of criminal actions against him in St. Louis County, dating back to 1995. Last April, he was indicted in State District Court on charges he possessed methamphetamine with intent to sell.

In a bail memo filed at the time, Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Kristen Swanson said Petruk had five pending criminal cases filed against him.

Duluth police Sgt. Rodney Wilson of the Lake Superior Drug and Violent Crime Task Force said at the time that Petruk had been a known methamphetamine dealer in the Twin Ports with a prior felony conviction for dealing meth.

“He’s been a longtime problem for us,” Wilson said then. “Basically, this has been an ongoing investigation ever since he got out of prison and went back to his old ways.”

Police said Petruk’s previous convictions included second-degree burglary, theft, tampering with a motor vehicle, fleeing police on foot, providing false information to police, disorderly conduct, possession of a firearm by a felon, distribution of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, third-degree assault, three fifth-degree assault convictions and illegal use of a police scanner in a motor vehicle.