Drug Court leader arrested on meth charge, put on administrative leave

John Grotts, left, and Devin Lawton
Posted: Apr. 29, 2013 12:14 am Updated: Mar. 19, 2014 6:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

One of the leaders of the Adams County Drug Court program has been arrested on methamphetamine-related charges.

John Grotts, 59, was arrested Friday night after members of the West Central Illinois Task Force and the Adams County Sheriff's Department executed a search warrant on his residence at 207 Walker in Ursa. Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard said in a press release that numerous items indicating drug activity were seized from the residence.

Grotts was charged with possession of less than 5 grams of meth and unlawful use of property. His first court appearance will be May 21. Grotts is a probation officer with the Adams County Probation Department and has been involved with the Drug Court program since 2008.

Grotts has worked in the Probation Department since July 2000, and one of his primary duties is to determine which offenders are viable candidates for the Drug Court program. He has been put on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.

"This is a cautionary tale," Barnard said. "Illicit drugs in general, and methamphetamine in particular, are equal-opportunity scourges. Drugs make no fine distinctions about their targets or the destruction they wreak. That this may have occurred within an organization whose mission it is to conquer the scourge of drug addiction is evidence of that."

If found guilty, Grotts faces up to five years in prison on the meth possession charge and up to seven years on the unlawful use of property charge.

Also arrested was Devin C. Lawton, 35, of Quincy, on an outstanding warrant for illegal possession of meth precursors. She graduated from Drug Court in May 2012 after spending two years and three months in the program.

Lawton pleaded guilty to possession of less than five grams of meth on Sept. 9, 2009, and was sentenced to 24 months probation in October 2009. A month later, the state's attorney's office filed for Lawton's probation to be revoked, and she was resentenced to Drug Court on Jan. 14, 2010.

Barnard said he expects to file more charges against Lawton, including participation in meth manufacturing, possession of meth precursors with intent to manufacture meth and possession of less than 5 grams of meth. Other charges against Grotts and Lawton are pending.

According to Barnard's press release, Lawton was living at Grotts' residence. Grotts was not lodged at the Adams County Jail.

"We didn't want him up in jail, for obvious reasons," Barnard said in an interview Sunday night, noting that not lodging Grotts was done for his own protection.

Lawton was lodged in the Adams County Jail. Her first court appearance has been scheduled for Monday.

The Adams County Drug Court program, an intense form of probation for drug abusers, began in 2006. Those who are sentenced to Drug Court and complete the 30-month program avoid jail or prison. There have been 53 graduates so far.

"The Adams County Drug Court program is a collaborative effort involving the dedication of many," Barnard said. "In many ways, it is a family. It has been, and continues to be, a godsend to those on the verge of self destruction. Its efforts are too important, its successes too vast to be compromised by the actions of a few.

"This is a sad and painful moment, but it is just that, a moment. The work of Drug Court, on the other hand, is a journey, the goal of which is to save lives. Make no mistake, we will deal with this, and Drug Court will move forward, its efforts undiminished, its success continuing."