APB Online

April 26, 2000

Prison Teacher Dealt Pot to Inmates, Cops Say

Woman, Accomplice Accused of Trafficking

By Janet Prasad, APB News
BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. (APBnews.com) -- A prison teacher was arrested for allegedly smuggling marijuana into the facility with the help of an accomplice and inmates, authorities said today.

The Jackson County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday announced an ongoing investigation into the drug trafficking operation with charges against several inmates expected.

Investigators believe Sandra Peterson, 50, of Black River Falls, smuggled in marijuana about eight times during a four-month period, Sheriff's Lt. Patrick LaBarbera said.

Authorities are still trying to determine how much marijuana was brought into the facility and how the drug was distributed, LaBarbera said.

Phones, mail were monitored

In March, deputies learned through phone and mail monitoring that marijuana was being smuggled into the Jackson Correctional Institute, LaBarbera said. The sheriff's drug unit launched a monthlong investigation that led to last week's arrest of Peterson and her alleged accomplice, Marlene Littlewolf, 34, also of Black River Falls.

"[The guards] hear things from time to time, and they do a follow-up to see if there's any credence to it, and in this particular case, they felt there was some credence to it," LaBarbera said. "We were able to substantiate that, yes, in fact, there was a conscious effort by several people to bring drugs into the prison."

Peterson and Littlewolf allegedly bought the marijuana and packaged it, and then Peterson would walk it into the prison, where it was sold and distributed to several inmates, authorities said.

On April 18, LaBarbera watched a drug transaction between Peterson and Littlewolf at a local fast-food restaurant, authorities said. He then followed Peterson to the prison, where she was taken into custody on three counts of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He found a package of 31.2 grams of marijuana in her possession, authorities said.

Littlewolf was arrested a short time later for delivery of a controlled substance.

'This is relatively uncommon'

Peterson admitted to bringing in marijuana on other occasions, LaBarbera said.

"This is relatively uncommon," LaBarbera said. "From time to time, drugs do get into prison. ... It hasn't been a real big problem out here."

Peterson, who teaches basic science, math and reading to inmates as part of a high school equivalency program, was suspended with pay, said Bill Clausius, spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Peterson has been employed as a teacher at the prison for three years.

Peterson and Littlewolf were released from jail after posting their required $1,000 cash bonds. The women are scheduled to appear in court May 8 for a preliminary hearing.

Janet Prasad Midwest Correspondent, janet.prasad@apbnews.com

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