SIDNEY — Mark E. Ward, 53, 21785 Deam Road, has entered a guilty plea in the Shelby County Common Pleas Court.
Ward, a Fairlawn Local School’s custodian, was placed on administrative leave from his position in mid-September 2015 after being charged with one count of illegal cultivation of marijuana, a felony of the third-degree, and one count of possessing criminal tools, a felony of the fifth-degree.
Ward was arrested after deputies teamed with agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for marijuana eradication in the county and discovered marijuana plants growing on his property. A subsequent search of Ward’s residence yielded a marijuana-grow operation inside the home. Deputies seized several items used in growing marijuana, as well as about 10 pounds of marijuana.
He originally plead not-guilty to the charges.
In December he entered a request for intervention in lieu of conviction. According to the request, “the defendant maintains he meets all of the eligibility requirements, including, but not limited to, defendant’s drug or alcohol usage was a factor leading to the criminal offense with which defendant is charged, intervention in lieu of conviction would not demean the seriousness of the offense, and would substantially reduce the likelihood of any future criminal activity.”
According to court records, in his plea agreement to apply for intervention, he entered conditional guilty pleas to the first count, amended to possession of drugs, a felony of the fourth-degree, and the second count as-is, possessing criminal tools, a felony of the fifth-degree.
He will face a maximum jail sentence of two and a half years and maximum fine of $7,5000. He also has the possibility of having to serve a discretionary three years of community control as determined by the parole board. All these possibilities are determined by his acceptance into the intervention program.
A date for sentencing has not been scheduled yet.
Fairlawn Superintendent Steven Mascho said once the district recieves the official court documents they will be reviwed with the districts attorney and the recommendation of the attorney will be discussed with the board of education at their next meeting on Feb. 11.