Drug smuggler moved to Walla Walla
The first adult to do time in jail in connection with marijuana smuggling on the Point Roberts school bus moved into the state penitentiary at Walla Walla last week.
James Jarosz, now 19, was sentenced to 18 months after he pled guilty to four felony counts of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance on March 3. His sentence will run concurrently with time imposed by the Bellingham Municipal Court for harassment and assault charges imposed in January 2004.
Two other juveniles and two adults are still facing charges in connection with the smuggling operation, including Jarosz’s alleged partner Robbie Poor, who is at large and wanted on a warrant to face similar felony charges in Whatcom Superior Court. A witness has said the pair used the school bus to smuggle marijuana to the United States from Canada between 10 and 20 times. Poor’s brother John, accused of recruiting the Point Roberts teen whose arrest on the school bus in February 2004 uncovered the smuggling operation, was found not guilty of a felony controlled substance violation.
Court documents in these cases name 10 teenagers as either participants or informants. Four juveniles have admitted to smuggling for Jarosz and Poor but only the one arrested on the school bus was prosecuted and her charge was reduced in exchange for her cooperation with authorities. The two juveniles still facing charges, now due in court in June, are alleged to have delivered the marijuana to her in conjunction with Poor. The other three juveniles named in court documents are witnesses interviewed by law enforcement.
The other adult tied to the case is Blaine high school principal Dan Newell, facing misdemeanor charges of obstruction and rendering criminal assistance. Investigators alleged Newell tipped off former school board member Deb Hart – the parent of Jarosz’s girlfriend, one of the teens who admitted smuggling – that law enforcement was aware of the operation. The other juvenile smugglers were allegedly recruited after Hart’s daughter stopped taking pot on the bus following Newell’s warning.
Newell’s tangential involvement gained notoriety following a press release sent by the county prosecutor to nine state and local media outlets. No release was issued when charges were laid against Jarosz or Poor. Responding to a request for copies of all media releases within the last year “whose subject deals with the arrest or the serving of summons of anyone charged with a criminal act,” county chief criminal prosecutor Mac Setter returned seven releases, all dealing with fatalities or death threats.
Setter was not available to discuss his department’s policies regarding the issuance of press releases or the identification of juveniles in public court documents. John Poor’s attorney Stephen Kozer said there is an assumption people under 18 have less exposure when involved in criminal investigations, which is not necessarily true. “If you’re convicted as a juvenile the idea is that it doesn’t follow you around, but it does follow you around,” he said. “Even if you’re only named, it exposes you to public question and ridicule.”