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Former Timberwolves CEO wins silica court battles in Goodhue Co.

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Bob Stein, the first president and CEO of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has won two court battles that could net him millions in silica sand profits.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reports that Stein, a Twin Cities lawyer who also starred as a Minnesota Gopher football player, filed a lawsuit in March 2011 alleging that he'd been improperly cut out of a land deal after Windsor Permian purchased 94 acres near Red Wing for $1.5 million.

Trouble is, Stein already had an agreement for mineral rights on the land with Scott and Susan Wesch signed Feb. 2, 2009 before the sale to Windsor Permian. The Wesches attempted to terminate the contract weeks before filing paperwork with the county, according to the Post-Bulletin.

In April, a judge ruled that Stein's agreement was binding, and Friday, the Rochester paper reports, a trial ended with a jury ruling that Windsor Permian and its subsidiaries had intentionally interfered with Stein's contract with the Wesches.

Silica sand is essential to fracking, which is used to extract natural gas and oil that had been trapped in rock, but the mining of silica sand and the "fracking" process are, of course, hugely controversial.

Another trial is coming for a jury to decide how much Stein will pocket.

The Post-Bulletin says the site might contains 23 million tons of high-quality silica sand, which is projected to be worth more than $2 billion.

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