2014-11-20 / News

Case Involving Terpening Goes to Circuit Court

The case against Stephanie Terpening moved to the 11th Circuit Court Monday, November 17, with arraignment set for Thursday, November 20. Ms. Terpening, the LaSalle High School band director, has been charged with conspiring to illegal drug trafficking, the delivery and manufacture of marijuana, conspiring to deliver and manufacture marijuana, and maintaining a drug house.

The 92nd District Court found that although Ms. Terpening is a qualified caregiver and may grow marijuana for up to five patients, she was involved in the sale of marijuana to non-qualifying people, and the case has been turned over to Circuit Court.

Her alleged co-conspirators, siblings Vanessa Hernandez and Patrick Tapia, have signed plea agreements requiring them to cooperate and testify truthfully in the case against Ms. Terpening.

During the preliminary hearing, their testimony established that Ms. Terpening was aware of the drug’s distribution. They testified that Ms. Terpening initially sold them marijuana for $200 an ounce and that any proceeds greater than $200 were divided evenly between Ms. Terpening and whichever of them acted as the seller. The arrangement later changed, and Ms. Terpening received $40 for an eighth of an ounce, or $80 for a quarter-ounce, and Mr. Tapia and Ms. Hernandez kept any profits.

They also testified that Ms. Terpening encouraged them to get medical marijuana cards so they could legally carry marijuana and filled out the required paperwork for them. She was registered as Mr. Tapia’s caregiver, but not Ms. Hernandez’s.

Both sold marijuana from the residence that they shared with Ms. Terpening and Mr. Tapia used Ms. Terpening’s car for the delivery of sales. Mr. Tapia also testified that he and Ms. Terpening made arrangements for a shipment of marijuana from the Lower Peninsula in response to either crop failures or a depleted supply.

“This arrangement insulated defendant from the actual sales to nonqualifying individuals. As a result, the defendant had the luxury of appearing not to be selling marijuana illegally, leaving Mr. Tapia and Ms. Hernandez holding the bag as the middle man,” said Judge Beth Gibson in her Opinion and Order, sending Ms. Terpening’s case to the Circuit Court.

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