The Mason teen at the center of a major drug operation will spend at least six months in jail for the crime. 17 year-old Tyler Pagenstecher admitted this summer he was the key figure in a marijuana operation that made about $20,000 a month.
Today, he was sentenced to six months in juvenile jail. If he behaves, he'll be released after that time. If he gets into trouble, he'll have to stay behind bars until he's 21 years old.
He'll also have to pay a $100 fine for each charge he faced and $2000 restitution to pay back the money agents used to make undercover drug buys and to do testing on evidence.
Pachenstecher's sentencing was delayed until today so he could complete an intensive drug treatment program.
For more information on the case, scroll down.
Story filed July 18, 2012
Six of the seven adults accused in a massive marijuana enterprise run by a 17-year-old Mason teenager appeared before a magistrate today. The adults are all accused of helping high school senior Tyler Pagenstecher run a pot growing and dealing network that grossed $20,000 a month.
Pagenstecher and the adults were all charged with trafficking in marijuana after a year-long investigation came to a close on Monday.
Today, six of the seven adults-including the son of Hamilton School superintendent Janet Baker-went before a judge, one by one. Each entered a plea of "not guilty" or no plea at all. Bonds were set between $15,000 and $50,000 and the judge told those who could make bond that they would be placed on a GPS. They also had to surrender any passports they may have had.
Meanwhile, police say Pagenstecher is not in custody but is cooperating with authorities.
The case was built on a series of undercover marijuana buys, many of them right under the unsuspecting eyes of neighbors and the suspect's mother.
It's a quiet, upscale suburban neighborhood, but on January 12, it was the center of a drug raid. Warren County Drug Task Force agents searched the home of Pagenstecher and confiscated pot, scales, a bong and a box of cash. It was the first hint to neighbors that the quiet kid on the corner might be up to something. Neighbor Earl Borgemenke says, "We just thought he has a lot of friends, until the police came, and then after that incident there wasn't anything going on, and we were hoping everything was straightened out."
According to court documents, the raid on Pagenstecher's house followed a series of undercover buys. It started with the teen selling an ounce of high grade pot to an agent on August 5 behind the Fox and Hound in Mason. Two other buys were made in August outside the Wendy's on Beach Boulevard and the Skyline Chili on Water Park Drive. Agents bought more pot at Pagenstecher's house in November, and again two days before searching the place in January.
Since then, police have uncovered a distribution and growing operation that led to felony charges against eight people and potential charges on six more Mason High School students. It also netted 3-million dollars worth of plants.
Police say it all funneled through the teenager, who will be prosecuted in juvenile court. Some wonder why he won't be tried as an adult. Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Goldberg says, "Number one, he's 17, no record, no guns, no violence, so there's a good chance they'd keep him in juvenile court. And, we don't know if he's cooperating with authorities either, so that could play a part in it as well."
Juvenile or adult, neighbors are saddened it's come to this and wish the kid down the block the best of luck. "Hopefully, he straightens himself out. He's got his life in front of him. I hate to see a child throw that opportunity away."
Six of the seven adults indicted in the drug operation are now in custody. Michael Lopez, who police say was the supplier who connected the teenager with the growers, is still out but has contacted authorities and says he will surrender.
Pagenstecher will be arraigned on July 31 in Warren County Juvenile Court. Police are still looking at possible charges involving six students at Mason High School.
The prosecutor says they were the people actually selling the pot to students at Mason and Kings High Schools. Despite the suspects' connection with the school, police say no marijuana was sold on school property.
Original story from July 16th, 2012
Investigators today released the names and photos of seven adults who allegedly worked for a 17 year old Mason high school student as part of a marijuana ring. They say the student's drug operation potentially grossed more than $20,000 a month.
Prosecutors say they found more than $6,000 in cash in the teen's bedroom at the time of the service of the search warrant. Continuing the investigation, officers were able to ultimately serve search warrants at houses in Norwood and Hamilton and a furniture warehouse in Blue Ash. In those three locations, detectives found 600 high-grade hydroponic marijuana plants, each valued at $5,000 a piece, with an ultimate street value in excess of $3 million.
In addition thousands of dollars of grow equipment were also seized in this investigation.
Seven adults were indicted by the Warren County Grand Jury on Friday involving various felonies. They are: 20 year old Gerald Peele of Mason, 28 year old Michael Lopez of Monfort Heights, 28 year old Stacy Lampe of Norwood, 31 year old Cody Lampe of Norwood, 31 year old Justin Baker of Hamilton, 57 year old William Sparks of Hamilton, and 58 year old Allen Honeycutt of Symmes Township.
Criminal charges are also being pursued in juvenile court against the teen, whose name was not released due to his age. Prosecutors allege the teen was the mastermind of the pot ring and was the main supplier of marijuana to Mason High School and Kings High School.
Warren County Prosecutor Dave Fornshell says, "He looks like someone who'd be in your church youth group. He looks like someone who'd be on student council or be a good friend to one of your young people. And, I think this in and of itself is somewhat scary."
John Burke of the Warren County Drug Task Force says, "Wasn't a problem in school. Wasn't a star athlete. But wasn't somebody you'd look at as a troublemaker other than the fact he was trafficking a fair amount of marijuana."
The street level dealers were all students at Mason and so were most of their customers, but nothing was sold at either Mason or Kings' campus. Tracey Carson of Mason City Schools says, "Of course none of this happened on school grounds, and that was gratifying for us to learn that our kids really know that drugs are not allowed at school."
Five student pot dealers have not yet been charged. At the school today, parents reaction was mixed. Many were numbed by past legal issues. None seemed truly surprised. Mason High School Parent Stacy Lysko says, "Unfortunately in today's high schools, it's part of it, and as a parent you have to be involved and tell your kids and hopefully in partnership with the school do something about it. I'm glad they caught 'em."
The juvenile's parents have not been charged with any crime, and police don't believe they were involved in the drug operation.