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Panzeca, 48, and her 15-year-old son were apprehended Monday evening. Panzeca was arrested at a relative’s home on Sesame Street in Springboro.
On Tuesday, they both had court appearances on charges for what prosecutors said was a drug trafficking business with 20 to 30 customers from Springboro and other area cities. Prosecutors said more arrests and charges are likely.
Court documents allege Panzeca allowed both the sale and use of drugs in her home.
“During this past school year, we are alleging that she allowed her son to sell marijuana and LSD from her home, allowing adults to provide LSD to juveniles in her home as well as allow her son and his friends to consume LSD and marijuana in her home,” Warren County assistant prosecutor Derek Faulkner said during Panzeca’s arraignment Tuesday.
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Panzeca, a teacher for more than 20 years at Five Points Elementary, bonded out of Warren County Jail on her own recognizance. During Panzeca’s arraignment Tuesday, Judge Daniel Oda II ruled Panzeca did not need to be detained or monitored.
She has been charged with fifth-degree felony permitting drug use and misdemeanor endangering children and contributing to the unruliness of a minor. She is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Aug. 31.
Panzeca’s son is being held in the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center on felony charges of drug trafficking, possession of LSD and possession of marijuana. The boy, who denied the charges, is scheduled for a further detention hearing Aug. 28.
“I understand why something like this would shock members of the community,” Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said. “When the initial report came to me from the (Warren County) Drug Task Force, certainly, I was shocked.”
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Springboro school district officials said Panzeca has been placed on paid administrative leave and that a long-term substitute will take over her classes, which start later this week. Panzeca had a base salary of $72,623 in 2016, according to the Dayton Daily News I-Team's Payroll Project.
“We know that there are allegations at this point, right now,” said Springboro school district communications coordinator Scott Marshall. “But we take those very seriously.”
The district did not immediately make Panzeca’s personnel file available, but Marshall said he didn’t think she’d had any major infractions. Marshall said parents and students would be contacted about the teaching change.
Fornshell said this was the first time in his 6-plus years that an allegation was made about drugs being sold at a teacher’s home.
“(Panzeca) was aware that drug trafficking was going on and was aware that drug use was going on and was aware of that fact for several months,” Fornshell said. “This juvenile was trafficking LSD to somewhere between 20 and 30 students, most of whom attended Springboro High School,” he said.
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A search warrant affidavit and return indicate law enforcement stopped vehicles that had been at Panzeca’s house and located LSD and marijuana in those vehicles. A Snapchat photo allegedly shows Panzeca’s son taking Xanax and LSD, according to court documents.
A confidential informant let police know that a party was to take place on May 19, the day law enforcement served one warrant. They seized several items that day and during a later search, according to a second search warrant return.
Those included drug paraphernalia such as a grinder and a bong, marijuana, LSD, four iPhones, several computers, storage devices, a shipping package, bank statements and several credit cards.
Defense attorney Andrea Ostrowski said Panzeca — who pleaded not guilty — is not a flight risk, has relatives and ties to the community and that she cooperated with police.
Fornshell said parents of teenagers must be vigilant.
“There’s probably a lot of parents out there that would have had zero concerns about their kids spending time at the Panzeca home, so to speak, because of her being a fifth grade teacher in the district,” he said. “We understand why there’s shock out there that something like this could happen.
“(People have) had her as a teacher and some of the comments out there have been very positive in terms in what type of teacher she has been to students,” Fornshell added. “But I think it also demonstrates there can be a complete different side to people that others aren’t aware of.”