High School Kid, 17, Busted in $3M Pot Ring

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 18, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A 17-year-old high school senior was the kingpin of a $3 million high school marijuana ring in southwestern Ohio, a grand jury alleges.

Tyler Pagenstecher of Mason, an upscale Cincinnati suburb, faces two felony counts of drug trafficking as a juvenile, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Seven adults were also indicted in the scheme that allegedly raked in $20,000 in pot sales each month.

What was the extent of Pagenstecher's alleged operation, and could his juvenile charges turn into adult ones?

Tyler Pagenstecher's alleged high school pot ring involved at least three marijuana grow houses in other Cincinnati suburbs, and help from a half-dozen current and former Mason High School classmates, authorities said. The operation supplied high-quality pot for sale, mainly to local students.

If Pagenstecher is convicted as a juvenile, he could spend three years in a state juvenile detention center, according to The Enquirer.

But it's possible a judge may choose to transfer his case to an adult court, where he could face prison time and hefty fines. In general, there are two ways this transfer can happen in Ohio.

If a child is charged with a violent felony like murder, rape, or aggravated robbery, Ohio law calls for a mandatory transfer to an adult court after a hearing in juvenile court.

A judge can also make a discretionary transfer to adult court if she finds:

  • Probable cause the child committed the alleged crime,
  • Reasonable grounds to believe the child cannot be rehabilitated within the juvenile system, and
  • Reasonable grounds to believe the community's safety is at stake.

The investigation that led to Tyler Pagenstecher's arrest in the alleged high school drug ring involved undercover officers, which could raise questions about entrapment. As his case proceeds, more details will reveal whether this defense can even be used.

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