Seniors Janet Paskin and David Todd returned to Oberlin to face charges of the cultivation of marijuana in their downtown apartment. Paskin and Todd denied the allegations.
Paskin said, "I am pleading not guilty, and expect to be totally exonerated."
Ross Insurance Agency, housed in the lower half of 21 E. College, lodged a complaint with their landlord William Steel. The agency was troubled by a ceiling leak. The marijuana was discovered when Steel and his wife entered their building at 21 1/2 E. College Street looking for the cause of the offending leak.
The Steels entered the students' apartment and, according to police reports, discovered a number of tall plants growing in a closet which had been lined with reflective material. Photographs of the apartment reveal the plants had grown almost to the top of the closet and completely filled the floor.
The Steels called the Oberlin police and patrolmen Ray Dietsche and Tim Diewald searched the apartment on Jan. 3. They discovered that the closet held 10 growing stations, of which eight were occupied by live marijuana plants provided with water and lighting. The two remaining stations held stalk remnant from recently cut plants.
Other than the eight plants, the police confiscated numerous pieces of evidence, including a growing lamp and water pump system, several drug pipes with residue, several bags containing marijuana seeds, and a butterfly knife and stiletto knife. They also collected articles on growing marijuana at home, a palm-size ball of marijuana wrapped in plastic, growing solutions, and a paper bag containing dry marijuana.
According to police reports, on Jan. 16 the Lorain County Crime Laboratory reported that it was able to dry, test and weigh 191 grams of marijuana. A technician said that a large amount of marijuana had deteriorated due to improper packaging, and that the total weight of the recovered marijuana was in excess in 200 grams.
Felony warrants were issued for the students' arrests, and Todd and Paskin turned themselves in to the Oberlin police on Monday, Jan. 19. Both have been charged with possession of marijuana, cultivation of marijuana, possession of criminal tools, and a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia. Cultivation of marijuana and possession of criminal tools are both level five felonies.
Upon turning himself in on the morning of the 19th, Todd refused to answer questions and was released on $5,000 personal bond. Paskin arrived with a lawyer and was released on personal recognizance bond.
According to Prosecutor Frank Ashbraugh,the two felony charges could result in possible sentences of up to 5 years in jail or a $250,000 fine. In response to the charges, both Paskin and Todd entered not guilty pleas on Jan. 21. Paskin is scheduled to appear in court February 18 at 9 a.m., and Todd's preliminary court date has been set for March 4 at 9 a.m. Todd said, "I hope to be totally exonerated."
Steel said that until the plants were discovered, Todd and Paskin had been excellent tenants. Steel said that despite this incident, they have no plans to stop renting to students.
The discovery and subsequent arrests were reported by both the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Oberlin News-Tribune. Paskin complained that the local papers' coverage of the incident has been overwhelmingly one-sided. She pointed to the fact that the police report stated only that a "white powder residue" had been found, while the Oberlin News-Tribune concluded that this was possible cocaine residue.
Copyright © 1998, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 13, February 6, 1998
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