Prior Lake teacher, Farmington resident faces drug charges

Criminal complaint: 47 marijuana plants, scales, paraphernalia found on property

Farmington resident and teacher in the Prior Lake School District Lori Jo-Meyer Abeln, 51, was charged in Dakota County District Court with two counts of felony possession and sale controlled substance crimes on Tuesday.

Dakota County Drug Task Force found 47 plants growing on her property along with scales and drug paraphernalia during a search in October, according to the criminal complaint.

She has been a physical education specialist for 29 years and employed at Hidden Oaks Middle School as an eighth-grade physical education teacher.

The Prior Lake-Savage Area School District confirmed she is a teacher in the district and she is currently on medical leave.

“There’s no indication she was selling to children or gave any drugs to any children,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. “We don’t take into consideration people’s jobs when we make charges.”

According to the complaint, the Dakota County Drug Task Force executed a search warrant for Abeln’s house off Blaine Avenue on Oct. 16, but found no one at home. Officers found 47 marijuana plants growing in a greenhouse along with a scale, marijuana seeds, glass pipe, a wooden pipe, a glass jar containing marijuana, a metal tin containing marijuana, and miscellaneous drug paraphernalia in the house. The marijuana plants weighed approximately 550 grams.

Eight days later an officer spoke with Abeln, who admitted to living at the residence alone.

According to the police report, she said she knew the plants were on the property but said someone had thrown marijuana seeds in the greenhouse years ago and the plants just grew. She said she did not actively care for the plants.

In the report, Abeln admitted to using marijuana for medical reasons, but denied smoking it out of a pipe, but rolling it with tobacco. She denied the drug paraphernalia belonged to her stating someone else had left the drug paraphernalia at her house.

She was charged with two felony fifth-degree controlled substance crimes for possession and sale, along with one count of possession of drug paraphernalia this week. The maximum penalty for the charges is 10 years in jail, and/or a $20,300 fine.

“Marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug,” Backstrom said. “It’s a felony to possess a significant quantity of it.”

Using marijuana for medical purposes is illegal in Minnesota.

A first-time offender that doesn’t have any prior drug convictions is eligible for a stay of adjudication, meaning there would be a period of probation and fines, according to Backstrom.

“Typically a first-time drug offender wouldn’t end up with a criminal record,” Bellows said.