June 28, 2016

Partly sunny

Police say Medina Schools’ teacher was growing pot

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — A Medina Schools teacher and her husband face drug charges after police said they discovered marijuana plants growing in the couple’s home.

Matthew Briggs, 35, was charged with cultivation of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, while his wife, Shannon Briggs, 34, was charged with complicity.

Matthew Briggs

Shannon Briggs

In addition, both were charged with endangering children because there were a 3-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl in the home.

“There was the possibility of the children being harmed by that occurring in the same residence with children present,” North Ridgeville police Detective Sgt. Adam Freas said.

The couple appeared in Elyria Municipal Court earlier this week but did not enter pleas. Both have preliminary hearings set for Oct. 23 before Elyria Municipal Court Judge Lisa A. Locke Graves.

Shannon Briggs is employed as a special-education teacher at A.I. Root Middle School.

Medina Superintendent Randy Stepp said Briggs is being placed on paid, indefinite administrative leave effective today pending an investigation by the school district into the case.

The Briggs were charged a week ago after they turned themselves in to police following an investigation that began Aug. 31 when a neighbor reported the front door of the couple’s home was open.

Police checking the house discovered a room in the basement where a number of marijuana plants were being cultivated, according to police Lt. Greg Petek, who is commander of the department’s detective bureau.

“A neighbor noticed the front door was standing wide open, and due to the rash of burglaries we’ve experienced this year, our officers checked on the residence,” Petek said.

“It was pretty extensive,” he said of the grow operation. “There were about six mature plants and 20 or so smaller seedlings.”

There were no indications the couple was growing the marijuana to sell it, Freas said.

“It appeared to be for their personal use, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t selling it,” he said.

Police also found drug paraphernalia such as pipes for smoking marijuana and a mason jar containing marijuana in plain view, Freas said.

Shannon Briggs initially told police she did not realize that marijuana was being grown in her home, Freas said.

“But she later changed her statement,” he said. “There was no way you could mask the odor.”

The time lag between the initial incident Aug. 31 and the couple being charged last week largely was because police were awaiting the results of lab tests to verify the plants were marijuana, Freas said.

Contact Steve Fogarty at (440) 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.