ANTIGO - Antigo has a certain small-town feel. But this community, an hour and a half northwest of Green Bay, is facing some big problems.
"I guess it took everybody by shock," said Antigo resident Justin Jeter.
A high school football coach who works as an elementary school principal was arrested on marijuana charges. So was a recently retired special education teacher.
That's not all. According to court documents, four men who work for the Antigo school district, including three teachers, admitted to buying or using marijuana. They're now on paid leave.
"I get a lot of people saying, 'Boy, what's going on in Antigo?'" said Mayor Bill Brandt.
Langlade County Sheriff Bill Greening says he's never been a part of a drug investigation like this before. And it's just the beginning.
It all started in August of 2011. The Antigo high school football team, under head coach John Lund, was gearing up for another season.
That same month, a tip came in to the Langlade County Sheriff's Office. The tip sparked a massive marijuana investigation that has led to dozens of criminal charges, three arrests and the suspension of five Antigo educators.
"When you look at the positions that these people held in the community, I think it's very significant impact and importance in this case," Greening said.
The most high-profile arrest was of that football coach, John Lund. He now faces eight marijuana-related felonies. Lund is also the principal at West Elementary School and Pleasant View Elementary School.
According to the criminal complaint, on Nov. 30, an investigator interviewed Lund at one of his schools. Lund admitted that he "obtained 4 1 oz. bags of marijuana" from his brother-in-law. Lund says a few days later, he "gave 2 bags of marijuana" to his friend and fellow football coach Scot Peterson.
Peterson, who spent 23 years in the Antigo school district and just retired from his job as a special education teacher in June, now faces 26 drug charges.
According to the complaint, Peterson admitted to buying "about 15 pounds" of marijuana over the past five years from a man named "John Hunter." No charges have been filed against Hunter and FOX 11 On Special Assignment was not able to contact him.
Peterson also admitted to "selling marijuana to his friends for 5 years."
Investigators say Lund admitted that in the last three years he "has delivered marijuana to his friends about 3 to 4 times."
Lund's brother-in-law, Bradley Maahs, is facing three felony drug charges. In the complaint, Maahs says he would deliver marijuana to Lund "about once a month" and "get $200 to $250 per ounce."
FOX 11 On Special Assignment tried to talk with all of the men charged but they never returned our calls.
Greening says there is no evidence that any drug activity took place in any schools or involved any students.
While this is not your average drug ring, the sheriff says it is serious.
"Some people compare the effects of marijuana to alcohol and that it's not different than drinking alcohol. My response to that is, the big difference is marijuana is illegal," Greening said. "Whether or not you agree that marijuana should be legal or illegal, the fact remains that it's illegal. And the people involved in this case are all educated people and they all know that marijuana is an illegal substance and they all chose, allegedly, to deal in illegal activities in marijuana."
So who are the men accused of providing marijuana to? The sheriff says people they knew including fellow teachers. Four people named in the criminal complaint are now on paid administrative leave from the Antigo school district.
According to the complaint, Joe Adams, a special education teacher at the high school for 23 years, told an investigator "he smokes "dope" on the weekends." He also said "Lund has a big July 4th party composed of people Lund teaches with, and Lund provides marijuana which is smoked at Lund's house."
Mark Incha, who has spent 22 years as a special education teacher at Antigo high school, admitted to getting a "gram or 2" of marijuana from Peterson.
Jeff Neufeld, the director of the aquatic center, also admitted "buying marijuana" in an interview with investigators.
And Dan Whitman, a gym teacher at East and North Elementary schools, at first "said he never smoked marijuana" but later admitted to "smoking it in Madison" and "while ice fishing."
FOX 11 On Special Assignment tried to contact all of them men on paid leave but they never returned our calls.
The sheriff says everyone in town should learn from the case.
"We're all human," Greening said. "Everybody makes mistakes but we need to learn from our mistakes and we need to hold people accountable when they do break the law."
The sheriff says one thing that makes this investigation difficult is that Lund, and
most of the people named in the criminal complaint, have been in Antigo for so many years and are so well-known. In fact, that's why some people are so surprised by the charges."
"These are good people in our community who did a lot positive things in the community," Brandt, the mayor, said. He is also the former police chief.
Brandt's feelings can be summed up with one word: Disappointing.
"It makes it more disappointing that they're involved in these things that probably started in college days and they probably should have grown out of by now but it didn't and people make mistakes and they'll, I'm sure, pay a price for that and that's too bad," Brandt said.
Like many small towns, there are plenty of opinions. Many people didn't want to share them publicly. Justin Jeter did.
"In a sense, it's a trust issue," Jeter said. He is particularly bothered by the charges against Lund.
"He holds a very high standard for this town. He's a principal. For a principal to do that, it's just uncalled for. You don't need people like that in that type of position," Jeter said.
Lund was placed on paid administrative leave on November 30th, the same day he was interviewed by police. Last week, the school board changed his status to unpaid leave.
The other four educators on leave are still being paid but the school board has a special meeting this Thursday to review their status.
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