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January 26, 2005 - The Vancouver Sun (CN BC)

Principal Accused Of Tipping Off Mom In Pot Investigation

Daughter Of School Board Member Allegedly Carried Drugs On School Bus

By Larry Pynn

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

BLAINE - The principal of Blaine high school faces criminal charges in Whatcom county for allegedly tipping off a school board member that her 16-year-old daughter was under investigation for transporting marijuana on a school bus.

The bus traveled between the Washington state communities of Point Roberts and Blaine, passing through Surrey and Delta.

Dan Newell, principal since 1990, was charged Tuesday with rendering criminal assistance and obstructing a law enforcement officer, accusations based on clandestine phone conversations with the school board member from a pay phone on Dec. 2, 2003.

Each offence is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 US fine.

According to an affidavit filed by Peter Dworkin, assistant chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney in Whatcom county, Newell had been informed by police about the continuing investigation into marijuana smuggling aboard the school bus and the fact that the board member's daughter, identified only as C.M., was specifically targeted.

Newell is quoted as stating anonymously on the phone: "I am from the school and I know [C.M.]. I am concerned about [C.M.] being on the bus. She is on videotape with a large duffel bag. If she is doing anything illegal, she needs to not do it on the bus or at school. She is suspected as one of the students they are watching."

The voice on the phone later added he worked for the school and that "this conversation never took place because my career would be in jeopardy, you have to promise me that."

Questioned later by police, Newell said he was "just trying to help a school board member," according to the affidavit.

Police claim the daughter was smuggling eight to 10 kilograms of marijuana on almost a daily basis from Point Roberts to Blaine aboard the bus, earning $1,000 to $2,000 a time.

The parents moved their daughter out of the state as a result of the phone call, and no charges were laid against her.

The girl's boyfriend, James Jarosz, 18 at the time and living in Point Roberts, eventually recruited other bus students to haul drugs, said the affidavit.

In June 2004, Jarosz was charged with three counts of delivery of marijuana and one count of conspiracy to delivery marijuana. His trial is pending.

Mary Lynne Derrington, superintendent of the Blaine school district, issued a brief news release Tuesday saying Newell had been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of his case.

He is to appear in Whatcom county district court on Feb. 4.

The former school board member -- whose name is not being published to protect her daughter -- defended Newell in an interview with the Bellingham Herald, saying she recognized his voice, and that his warning saved her daughter from prosecution and got the girl to clean up her act. "The whole situation gave her life back," the mother said.

The investigation was conducted by the Whatcom county sheriff's office, the Blaine police department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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