Seven held in school sting High school students arrested after 2-month undercover operation

Principal sought inquiry

Charges against adult, 6 juveniles include drugs, theft, arson

May 29, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A suspect arrested and charged Thursday in connection with an undercover investigation at Westminster High School was misidentified by a Maryland State Police news release. The correct name of the suspect is Kevin William Wayson, 20, of the 1200 block of Campus Court in Westminster. The person incorrectly named in yesterday's editions is Kevin Wayson's brother, Augustus, state police said yesterday.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Seven Westminster High School students were arrested yesterday on various charges -- including drugs, theft and arson -- as police, fire and school officials concluded a two-month undercover operation sought by the school's principal.

Authorities began the investigation in April in the wake of the drug overdose death of a 15-year-old Westminster High School student in January and the return to school of two of three suspects charged in connection with the death.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Saying that a high school reflects what is happening in the community, Principal Sherri-Le Bream said she saw an increase in crime and vandalism at the school and suspected that drug use was also on the rise.

"I suspected it, but wanted an objective assessment," she said.

Posing as a student, Trooper Derek Howell formed relationships that enabled him to collect information that will be used in future drug investigations, according to Col. David B. Mitchell, Maryland State Police superintendent.

Mitchell said that the trooper purchased a .38-caliber pistol from one youth at the boy's home; bought marijuana from three suspects; and developed evidence to link some youths to two auto thefts in Westminster, three cases of malicious destruction of property; and several shoplifting incidents.

Howell also obtained information that enabled fire marshals to solve five of six arsons that occurred from April 13 to 30, Mitchell said.

Arresting five of the seven suspects at school -- one was picked up off campus and another turned himself in to police -- sends a strong message to students as well as to parents and county residents, Mitchell said.

Augustus T. Wayson III, 20, of the 1200 block of Campus Court, Westminster, was charged with two counts of first-degree malicious burning and one count of first-degree arson.

Four youths from Westminster and two from Finksburg were to be turned over to juvenile authorities for further action, state police said.

All seven will face disciplinary action, pending hearings by school authorities, school officials said.

State police listed the charges against the six juveniles: A 16-year-old Westminster boy was charged with illegally possessing a firearm, selling a .38-caliber pistol to Howell, distribution of marijuana, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

A second 16-year-old boy from Westminster was charged with )) distribution of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute marijuana, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and conspiracy to distribute marijuana.

A 15-year-old Westminster boy was charged with distribution of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana, three counts of malicious destruction of property, three counts of shoplifting, and breaking and entering.

A 17-year-old boy from Finksburg was charged with distribution of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A 14-year-old Finksburg boy was charged on two counts of malicious destruction of property.

A 15-year-old Westminster boy was charged with breaking and entering, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Strong message

Brian Lockard, superintendent of Carroll County public schools, said the undercover investigation was a good-news/bad-news situation.

"It's good news to send a strong message to the other students," Lockard said. "It's bad news that we have to enforce the message" for a small percentage of our students.

"It's good that no heroin and no large quantities of other drugs were involved," he said. "It's bad that we did find some.

"It's also good that 99 percent of our youngsters are good and never in trouble."

State Fire Marshal Rocco J. Gabriele said three of the suspects were connected to arsons involving two vehicles, two houses, a barn and a trash fire -- accounting for more than $300,000 in damage.

Credit to principal

Linda Auerback, founder of Residents Attacking Drugs after the overdose death of Liam O'Hara, said she was elated to learn of yesterday's arrests.

"Sherri-Le Bream deserves a lot of credit," Auerback said. "She took a lot of heat and couldn't say anything without giving away that she knew about an undercover investigation."

Three juveniles, two boys and a girl, were charged in connection with selling the lethal drug to O'Hara.

One of them, Kristopher Olenginski, 16, was charged as an adult and is awaiting trial.

Pub Date: 5/29/98

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