LEBANON, Ohio — A teenager convicted of selling up to $20,000 worth of high-grade marijuana a month to high school students in southwestern Ohio was sentenced on Monday to serve six months to three years in a juvenile prison by a judge who called him “a pretty fine young person that went down a bad trail.”
Tyler Pagenstecher of Mason will be turned over to Ohio’s Department of Youth Services, which will decide how long Pagenstecher, 18, will be in prison, depending on his behavior.
“He’s not going home today,” Judge Thomas Lipps said, explaining that the charges against Pagenstecher were too serious for him to avoid prison time.
Authorities say Pagenstecher was one of the most prolific drug dealers in the Cincinnati area, a “little czar” in charge of six teenage lieutenants who helped him sell the marijuana to well-to-do students at two high schools.
Authorities believe Pagenstecher began selling the drugs when he was at least 15 and managed to stay under authorities’ radar for a long time by not selling pot at school, but largely out of his home, where he lived with his single mother and older brother.
In court Monday, Pagenstecher stood up and apologized, saying that he didn’t realize the severity of his actions.
“I understood that I would get in trouble but not to the level or extent this has become, and I sincerely regret all of this,” he said. “If I could take it all back, I would.”
His mother, Daffney Pagenstecher, also spoke to the judge, saying her son “just thought he was using a recreational drug and selling it to his friends, and that was it.”
“He wasn’t out to become, you know, a big drug dealer,” she said. “He didn’t buy a new car. He didn’t buy fancy clothes. He wasn’t making the money that a drug dealer would make and flaunting it.”
The 50-year-old school bus driver said she had no idea what her son had been up to before his arrest.
Judge Lipps expressed incredulity that Tyler Pagenstecher didn’t understand the seriousness of what he was doing and said all parents would want to see the person responsible for selling their child drugs to be punished, regardless of age.
He said he did take into consideration the fact that Pagenstecher wasn’t violent, didn’t have weapons, was a good student, finished a drug-abuse program, and got a job at an Italian restaurant.
“You know, I think you’re probably a pretty fine young person that went down a bad trail here,” Judge Lipps told Pagenstecher. “I do think there’s hope for you in the future.”
In addition to Pagenstecher, seven adults ages 20 to 58 were arrested in connection with the drug ring.