It's been more than a year since detectives first began their investigation into a Langlade County drug ring. Since then 13 people have been charged. Eight of them are former employees for the Antigo and Merrill School Districts.
Scot Peterson, a retired Antigo School District teacher and former High
School football coach, admitted to purchasing and selling about 15lbs of marijuana to family and friends in the last five years. He was released this week after serving less than 6 months in the county jail. A sentence that raised eyebrows as well as questions.Peterson originally faced 26 drug related charges, including manufacturing and delivering THC. Each charge carried a maximum sentence of 3 years and 6 months in prison, raising questions about whether or not his 6 month sentence was too lenient.
After filing through stacks of court cases and Sheriff's Department records, NewsChannel 7 found no similar cases to Scot Peterson's. This isn't surprising considering the sheer number of charges against him and the prominent people involved.
NewsChannel 7 did, however, speak to both Sheriff William Greening and Lanaglade County District Attorney Ralph Uttke. Sheriff Greening told us that in the majority of the cases related to the drug ring, sentencing was consisent with both his and the DA's recommendations. There were only two sentences that were not, Scot Peterson's and Antigo School District Aquatic Center Director Jeff Neufeld's. Both sentences were less than Sheriff Greening and DA Uttke recommended.
Neufeld was charged with possession. His sentence was deferred for 6 months, meaning that if he avoids legal trouble during that time his misdemeanor will be dismissed. Seven other people involved in the drug ring were charged with possession including former Antigo High School Special Education Teachers Joe Adams and Mark Incha, former substitute teacher with the Merrill School District Tony Crabb, and Scot Peterson's brother and former Merrill teacher and coach Jay Peterson. All 7 had their judgment deferred for one year. Sheriff Greening attributes the difference to the fact that Neufeld's case was not prosecuted by DA Uttke. The reason, Neufeld and the DA are close.
As for Peterson, Sheriff Greening and DA Uttke recommended a jail sentence of one year. Back in June DA Uttke commented on Peterson's reduced 6 month sentence.
"I believe that my recommendation was fair and reasonable when I asked for a year in the county jail and the judge gave him 6 months in the county jail, but that's the judge's rule. I'm simply there to make my argument for what I felt was appropriate for the community," Uttke said.
Months later, Uttke stands by what he did. He added that personal relationships with defendants did not factor in to judgment in these cases.
Six out of the seven Antigo and Merrill School District employees who allegedly bought marijuana from Scot Peterson are no longer with their respective school district. Only Neufeld has been reinstated following the Langlade County Sheriff's Department investigation.
John Hunter, who is named in the criminal complaint as Scot Peterson's supplier, is currently facing 26 charges of manufacturing and delivering cocaine and 24 charges of manufacturing and delivering THC. He was in court this past Monday and is expected back in court in February.
Hunter also sold to Michael Peterson. He is not related to Scot Peterson. Michael Peterson faces 2 charges of possession with intent to deliver cocaine. He's due back in court November 30th.
Besides buying from Hunter, Scot Peterson also bought from John Lund, a former Antigo Elementary School Principal. Lund also bought from Peterson. He is currently awaiting a jury trial set to begin in January. Lund faces 7 drug related charges. Lund's brother-in-law Brad Maahs is also facing manufacturing and delivery charges. According to the criminal complaint, Maahs grew his own marijuana and sold it to Lund.