Students arrested in local drug bust

By Mark McGowan

Twelve people, three of whom are NIU students, were charged with selling drugs late Thursday by authorities of the North Central Narcotics Task Force after a two-month investigation lead police to two DeKalb bars.

DeKalb Police Chief Don Berke said drug transactions have been going on in McCabe’s Lounge, 323 E. Lincoln Hwy., and Andy’s Lounge, 317 E. Lincoln Hwy., without the knowledge of the owners or the employees.

“We recognized this as a problem in our community,” Berke said, adding the sting was planned to “zero in on our night spots and liquor establishments.”

About five undercover agents of the task force entered the bars and made 26 purchases of cocaine, cannabis and psilocybin, a hallucinogen commonly known as mushrooms. The agents spent $2,800 during the two-and-a-half-hour operation.

Amounts of cocaine ranged from as little as a quarter gram to as much as five grams while officers bought cannabis in amounts ranging from half an ounce to a pound, Berke said.

Half of the arrests were for cocaine, but Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Angelo DeFranco said a heavy cocaine haul was expected. “As a general rule, you’ll get 50 percent cocaine and 50 percent cannabis,” DeFranco said.

“The hot drug right now is cocaine,” Berke said.

There are still three warrants pending on Thursday’s sting, and police say they probably will make five more arrests before June. Andy’s and McCabe’s “are not the end of the list,” Berke said. “This by no means concludes the efforts. There’s a long way to go,” he said.

“There’s no dealer too small or too big,” DeFranco said.

Arrested for unlawful delivery of cannabis were Timothy J. Scarnato, 21, 833 Ridge Drive, Apt. 601; Deborah S. Bidstrup, 26, 1612 Maness Court, Sycamore; David A. Scott, 27, 832 Ridge Drive, Apt. W209; David W. Moore, 28, 221 South Sixth St.; and William A. Scholfield, 24, 817 Greenbrier Road, Apt. C.

Scarnato and Scott are NIU students.

Arrested for unlawful delivery of cocaine were Dexter L. Hammond, 29, 1127 N. First St.; Van E. Ritchason, 30, 112 N. Fourth St.; Robert L. Volger, 31, 1309 Pleasant St.; Donna S. Hodge, 30, 843 Taylor St.; William H. Knowles, 33, 316 N. Sixth St.; and Jordan M. Frank, 34, 820 Annie Glidden Road.

NIU student (name temporarily withheld), 21, 910 Hillcrest Dr., Apt. 308, was arrested for unlawful delivery of psilocybin.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Michael Coghlan said he will prosecute the cases “rigorously” and has petitioned for a grand jury to help secure evidence for the trials, which should begin about May 22.

Sycamore Police Chief Dale Vesta said “Other taverns under investigation were Johnson Bottling Works, the Lost Mine and Cub & Spanks.”