Teens with ties to Walworth County to stand trial in pot case
The order from Walworth County Judge Robert Kennedy prompted three of the defendants to plead not guilty to the charges. The fourth will have a plea hearing before Kennedy on Friday, Jan. 21.
The case stems from an underage girl meeting a California man who claimed he could grow pot legally because he had a California medical marijuana card.
The man twice mailed the drug from California to Walworth County earlier this year, according to court records.
Charged last month as members of a plan to sell California pot to Walworth County buyers were:
-- Ian G. Johnson, 18, formerly of Lake Geneva.
-- Taylor M. Aguilar, 18, formerly of Lake Geneva.
-- Nikolas A. Koch, 17, Elkhorn.
-- Curt A. Schlagel, 18, Elkhorn.
Johnson and Schlagel on Friday waived their rights to a preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty.
Lawyers for Koch and Aguilar took the cases to preliminary hearings and argued that their clients were unaware of any intent to sell the marijuana and therefore they could not have been part of a conspiracy to sell it.
Johnson and Schlagel were called as witnesses in Koch’s and Aguilar’s cases, but they refused to testify, invoking their Fifth Amendment rights to not say anything that might incriminate them.
Kennedy rejected the lawyers’ arguments, saying that Koch and Aguilar played roles in bringing the pot to Walworth County and concealing it from authorities.
A pretrial status conference is scheduled for all but Koch on Feb 25.
An arrest warrant has been issued for the man suspected of being the marijuana supplier, Merrick J. Boyer, 18, of Escondido, Calif.
All are charged with conspiracy to possess and sell marijuana. The felony charge carries a maximum prison term of six years and a fine of $10,000.
Walworth County Sheriff’s Detective Jeffrey Recknagel testified Friday that he was working in the drug unit during the investigation and had heard about the California pot.
Recknagel learned that a half-pound of pot with a value of $2,000 was delivered to Koch’s downtown Elkhorn home, where he lives with his mother.
Recknagel said he learned that people regularly smoked pot there.
The pot was taken to Johnson’s home for safe keeping, the detective said.
When Recknagel went there to find it, Aguilar, at Johnson’s instruction, went to Johnson’s bedroom, cut a hole in the window screen and threw it down to the yard below, he said. The pot was in a backpack, and Aguilar said she wasn’t sure what was in it.
Johnson was waiting in a car for her.
According to a criminal complaint:
Investigators learned of the California arrangement when the parents of an underage girl checked text messages on her cell phone.
The parents on April 19 took her to the sheriff’s office, where she told investigators she had met Boyer while on vacation in late 2009.
Boyer told her about his medical card to grow marijuana in California. Money and the drug were later exchanged. Boyer even visited Elkhorn to drop off some marijuana.
It was unclear if the underage girl was referred to juvenile court, but she is not one the defendants named in the criminal complaints.