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Charges: Drug deal went down in front of 3 officers in Ellsworth

Trace Schofield, Desmond Trok and Matthew P. Jones

ELLSWORTH — A gas station just paces away from Pierce County's law enforcement center might not be the most inconspicuous place for a drug deal, but prosecutors allege that's just what a trio of teens did last week.

The young men were flanked by officers — including a nine-year veteran of the St. Croix Valley Drug Task Force pumping gas into his squad car — who watched them transact the sale of a quarter-pound of marijuana Thursday, March 9, according to charges filed in the case.

Investigation of the case led investigators to Plum City High School, where a student there allegedly admitted to being behind the sale.

The Pierce County Attorney's Office charged Ellsworth resident Desmond T. Trok, 18, Knapp resident Matthew P. Jones, 18, and Menomonie resident Trace Schofield, 17, with delivering THC, a felony. No charges had yet been filed against the Plum City student and it wasn't clear Monday if the case received a juvenile referral.

According to criminal complaints:

Pierce County sheriff's investigator Marty Shepler was pumping gas into his squad car at 11:55 a.m. when he saw what looked like a drug deal in the nearby parking lot.

He watched a brown vehicle back into a parking stall next to a white vehicle.

On the other side of the brown vehicle was a Department of Natural Resources warden's patrol truck.

The warden happened to be walking out of the neighboring Pierce County Sheriff's Office with another deputy during the drug deal. They called it in to dispatchers, who seconds later were alerted by Shepler of the same thing.

Shepler and the deputy, Robbie Jaeger, connected over their radios and formulated a plan to conduct a traffic stop on the two vehicles.

Shepler stopped the brown vehicle near the Pierce County Fairgrounds. As he was getting out of his squad car, Jaeger told him the driver of the white vehicle had already admitted to selling the drugs.

Shepler then approached the occupants of the brown vehicle and told them to turn over the drugs they'd just purchased. The occupants at first were silent before a female in the back eventually produced a backpack containing a quarter-pound of pot.

Packaging on the pot was labeled "QP" — street slang for "quarter pound" — and the letters "MJ."

Jones was later identified as one of the passengers; a girl identified as MT was the other passenger.

Jones denied the initials represented the pot was his; he said he was the middle man in arranging the marijuana for Schofield, identified as the driver. The juvenile girl also said Schofield bought the pot, then handed her the backpack.

Schofield later admitted the pot was his, but didn't talk further with Shepler. Officers found a pellet-firing handgun next to Schofield, along with a large knife.

Trok, the driver of the white vehicle, told Shepler he delivered the pot to Jones on behalf of his friend and got $620 in return. Trok later identified his supplier as a student at Plum City High School.

Shepler went to the school, where the was summoned to the principal's office. The officer told the boy that he had recovered some of his property. The boy "gave me a funny look and said he wasn't missing anything.

"I then set the bag of marijuana on the table along with the money," Shepler wrote in the complaint.

The student said he gave Trok the pot to sell after acquiring it the previous night for $600 from someone in the east metro he purported to know only through his Snapchat identity. Investigators received permission to search his house for drug paraphernalia the boy admitted to possessing.

Nine pipes, a digital scale, THC wax, rolling papers and marijuana remnants were discovered in a search of the boy's bedroom.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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