Ex-Drug Court leader enters guilty plea on federal drug charge; prosecutor recommends probation

Posted: Oct. 23, 2013 6:13 pm Updated: Nov. 6, 2013 7:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Probation will be recommended when a former officer with the Adams County Drug Court is sentenced after he pleaded guilty to a federal drug charge.

John Grotts, 60, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of maintaining a drug-involved premises in front of Judge Byron Cudmore in U.S. District Court. He will be sentenced Feb. 24 after a pre-sentence report is completed.

Sharon Paul, public information officer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, says the government will recommend probation at Grotts’ sentencing hearing. The judge is not bound by the recommendations by either the prosecution or the defense, and Grotts could be sentenced to up to 20 years in federal prison.

Grotts was scheduled to have a pretrial hearing Wednesday ahead of a Nov. 5 trial start.

He was alleged to have had meth manufacturing materials and marijuana manufacturing materials at his residence at 207 Walker in Ursa. Grotts was one of two people arrested April 26 after an investigation by the West Central Illinois Task Force. Devin C. Lawton, 36, a Drug Court graduate who had been living with Grotts for a year, also was arrested.

Grotts was the Probation Department’s representative to the Adams County Drug Court program at the time of his arrest. He was fired from his position May 9.

According to a federal affidavit, Task Force members confiscated trash at Grotts’ residence April 24. Officers collected three bags from a bin in front of the residence, and they said eight burned pieces of foil with residue, one of which tested positive for meth, was found.

Also found, officers said, was a cellophane bag containing cannabis stems and seeds, which field-tested positive for the presence of cannabis; a receipt showing the purchase of pseudoephedrine pills; and several plastic corner-cut bags and papers showing Grotts’ address.

When agents served the warrant, they said they found a one-pot shake-and-bake meth lab that contained meth residue on the back porch by the walk-out door from Grotts and Lawton’s bedroom. Two bags of cannabis were found in the bedroom, and a cannabis pipe was found on the living room floor, agents said.

From the bedroom, agents confiscated a corner-cut plastic bag with white residue, a “tooter” straw and a piece of burnt foil with meth residue, three used coffee filters with residue, two pieces of foil and a marijuana grinder, digital scales and plastic bags.

One bag of cannabis was found in a basement safe.

Found in the basement, agents said, were a grow light and metal stand used to grow plants indoors, a book on growing marijuana, four boxes of starting plugs, two scales, a water pump, three boxes of empty capsules and a number of totes that contained more than 100 blue bags of plant material.

Agents seized 11 guns from the house. A 9 mm pistol, four magazines of ammunition and two 20-gauge double-barrel shotguns were found in a computer room. Eight rifles were found in a closet by the front door.

Lawton pleaded guilty to possession of meth and possession of meth precursors in July. It was her third felony conviction and she was sentenced to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on July 30.

She graduated from Drug Court in May 2012.