Glenolden teen admits role in Main Line pot peddling ring

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Norristown >> A Delaware County man has admitted to playing a role in a pot peddling ring as a member of the so-called “Main Line Take Over Project” in Montgomery County while he was a student at The Haverford School.

Daniel Robert McGrath, 18, of Scott Avenue, Glenolden, pleaded guilty in Montgomery County Court to misdemeanor charges of receipt in commerce of marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia in connection with his role in the organization between September 2013 and February 2014.

Judge Steven T. O’Neill deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigative report about McGrath, who was a senior at The Haverford School at the time of the crimes but was charged as an adult because he was 18. McGrath, who is represented by defense lawyer Thomas Bergstrom, potentially faces several months in jail but state sentencing guidelines also would allow for probation.

“He was an underling in this organization. He admitted he knowingly received marijuana during the course of this investigation,” said Assistant District Attorney Jason Whalley. “It is important that Daniel accepted responsibility for his actions.”

Essentially, McGrath admitted purchasing marijuana from the ringleaders and putting it in commerce for others.

During the investigation of the pot peddling ring, detectives alleged ringleaders Timothy Clinton Brooks and Neil Kennedy Scott, former students of The Haverford School, exchanged text conversations in which Brooks identified McGrath as his “sub-dealer” at the school, according to court papers.

“Brooks described Dan McGrath as a highly motivated poor kid who attends The Haverford School on a scholarship,” detectives wrote in the criminal complaint.

During one text conversation, Brooks informed Scott he had convinced McGrath to sell larger quantities of pot.

“Just convinced my Haverford guy to build his empire and stop grams. Tho I am gunna hook him up to show that Haverford love,” Brooks allegedly wrote to Scott.

Scott allegedly replied, “As will I, though my name has to stay far from it,” according to court papers.

Scott allegedly told Brooks he likes “those kinds of kids,” and directed Brooks to keep McGrath stocked with smaller amounts of marijuana because The Haverford School is a small place, according to the arrest affidavit.

When confronted by detectives, McGrath, according to court papers, stated he purchased two to four ounces of pot from Brooks every seven to 10 days, saying he and friends would usually pool their money to buy the pot from Brooks to save money. McGrath allegedly admitted he also sold marijuana he purchased from Brooks to other people, typically in grams for $10 to $15 and $40 for an eighth of an ounce, according to the arrest affidavit.

McGrath, according to court papers, told authorities he earned $40 to $50 a week selling marijuana.

Last week, Brooks, 19, of the 600 block of Cedar Lane, Villanova, pleaded guilty to felony charges of possession with intent to deliver marijuana, operating a corrupt organization and conspiracy to distribute marijuana in connection with his role as one of the ringleaders of the organization and is free while awaiting sentencing.

Scott, 25, of Paoli, Chester County, who remains in jail, is tentatively scheduled to appear in county court on the charges in November.

A total of 11 people were arrested in April when the drug operation was dismantled by county detectives. Most of the others, identified by prosecutors as “sub-dealers,” previously pleaded guilty to drug-related charges and potentially face jail time.

Prosecutors have 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, who, according to court papers, previously worked at a medical marijuana dispensary while living in California, 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 recruited students at Lafayette College, Gettysburg College in Adams County, and Haverford College to peddle the drugs, according to court papers.

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 from existing drug dealers the marijuana business in the affluent Main Line section of the county, 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.