NORRISTOWN — With their clean-cut, fresh-scrubbed appearances, conservative haircuts and attire that included blue blazers, ties and fashionable skirts, members of the so-called “Main Line Take Over Project” stood out in the court of law where they answered to charges they were part of a pot peddling ring.
While the two alleged ringleaders of the pot peddling ring, Neil Kennedy Scott, 25, of Paoli, Chester County, and Timothy Clinton Brooks, 18, of Villanova, are still awaiting trial, four so-called “sub-dealers” pleaded guilty to various charges Wednesday in Montgomery County Court and agreed to testify against the ringleaders should they go to trial.
Reid J. Cohen, 19, of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and Garrett M. Johnson, 19, of Jericho, N.Y., each pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of receipt in commerce of marijuana and possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia, essentially admitting they received marijuana from the ringleaders or others involved in the plot and dealt in the drugs between September 2013 and February 2014.
Dominic Vincent Curcio, 29, of Philadelphia, and Willow Lynn Orr, 22, of Philadelphia, each pleaded guilty to a more serious felony charge of conspiring with others in the plot to engage in possession with intent to deliver marijuana during the five-month period.
Cohen, Johnson and Orr each remain free on bail to await sentencing by Judge Steven T. O’Neill. Curcio, who according to testimony also faces a parole violation as a result of his arrest, remains in jail without bail while awaiting sentencing. Each of the offenders faces possible maximum sentences of up to several years in prison on the charges.
“Some of these defendants chose this path in dealing drugs because they found that that avenue was a way for them to become someone in the eyes of their friends. Unfortunately, everyone got a very hard lesson that it was not and because of their choices are sitting before a judge waiting to be sentenced,” county Special Assistant District Attorney Tonya Lupinacci summed up Wednesday’s events. “It is my hope that this case sends a very strong message to all kids, young adults, families and friends out there that there are consequences to these types of actions.
“I am sure a year ago none of these young men and woman thought that they would be sitting in the Montgomery County Courthouse in front of a judge,” Lupinacci added. “I hope that we’ve initiated conversations in homes all around America, between parents and their children, about deciding what is right and wrong. These defendants made the wrong decision and they will pay for it. They will have to deal with the ripple effect of their actions for the rest of their lives.”
The judge asked each of the defendants about when they last used pot and then warned them to refrain from using drugs while awaiting sentencing.
“It seems like weed got a lot of people in trouble so we’ll keep testing you,” O’Neill told the four who pleaded guilty, indicating they face random drug testing while free on bail awaiting sentencing.
“He’s been taking drug screens for months and he’s clean,” defense lawyer R. Emmett Madden told the judge on behalf of Cohen.
Johnson was represented by defense lawyer Thomas E. Carluccio while Curcio was represented by defense lawyer Scott Michael Wilhelm. Defense lawyer David Barrish represented Orr. The defendants and their lawyers declined to comment as they left the courtroom.
Lupinacci characterized the four who pleaded guilty as “sub-dealers.”
“These defendants were selling marijuana. Although they may have had separate customers they were dealing with, the organization as a whole was infiltrating marijuana into our neighborhoods and our schools,” Lupinacci alleged.
Prosecutors identified Scott and Brooks, who both played lacrosse at The Haverford School and are college dropouts, as the leaders of the operation. Their goal, prosecutors alleged, was to take over the drug trade at several area schools and colleges by recruiting sub-dealers, who then allegedly sold the drugs in schools.
Scott and Brooks allegedly recruited and supplied sub-dealers to sell to teens at such places as Lower Merion, Radnor, Harriton and Conestoga high schools and The Haverford School, according to court papers. They also allegedly recruited students at Lafayette College in Northampton County, Gettysburg College in Adams County, and Haverford College to peddle the drugs, according to court papers.
Scott and Brooks each face charges of corrupt organizations, dealing in unlawful activities and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances. They face another pretrial hearing in October.
“This is an organization that operated right here in our back yard by two young adults who had promising futures and who had every opportunity in the world to become vested citizens, to give back to the community, and I think it’s really sad when you see these types of individuals who had these opportunities that made really bad choices,” Lupinacci said.
Scott, who previously listed an address along Barrett Avenue in Haverford, remains in the county jail in lieu of $1 million bail while awaiting trial, according to court records. Scott, who is represented by defense lawyer Thomas C. Egan III, previously worked at a medical marijuana dispensary while living in California, according to court papers.
A total of 11 people were arrested in April when the alleged drug operation was dismantled by county detectives.
Others charged in connection with the operation include: Daniel Robert McGrath, 18, of Glenolden; Christian Euler, 23, of Villanova; and John Cole Roseman, 20, of Weston, Conn.
Two 17-year-old males, one from Bala Cynwyd and one from Radnor, also were charged in the case and are being prosecuted as juveniles.
In January, the county’s Narcotics Enforcement Team and Lower Merion police initiated an investigation of a drug trafficking organization targeting area high schools and colleges, according to a criminal complaint filed by county detectives. Detectives discovered, through seized text messages, that Scott and Brooks “self-described” their drug organization as the “Main Line Take Over Project,” according to the criminal complaint.
Scott allegedly gave Brooks advice about how to profit from selling drugs. Brooks, who was once employed by a local investment firm, made it his goal to take over the marijuana business in the affluent Main Line section of the county from existing drug dealers, according to the criminal complaint.
“Scott and Brooks recalled their days as students at The Haverford School. They discussed targeting students as customers for their marijuana sales,” detectives wrote in the arrest affidavit.
Between February and April, evidence of the alleged drug trafficking operation was seized at nine locations in Montgomery, Chester, Delaware, Northampton, Adams and Philadelphia counties, including eight pounds of pot, three grams of hash oil, 23 grams of cocaine, 11 grams of Ecstasy, various weapons including a loaded assault rifle, and cash totaling $11,035, according to the criminal complaint.
Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews