TWO PREP-SCHOOL grads led a major illegal-drug ring and planned to monopolize the drug trade in Philadelphia's affluent suburbs, authorities said yesterday.
Using confidential informants and "controlled buys," law-enforcement authorities launched a four-month investigation into the operation allegedly spearheaded by former lacrosse players Neil Scott, 25, of Haverford, and Timothy Brooks, 18, of Villanova.
"The Main Line takeover project is coming together fast," Brooks wrote in a text message to Scott, according to court papers.
"Every nug [bud of marijuana] on the Main Line is about to come from you and me."
Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman announced drug charges yesterday, displaying a stockpile of drugs, guns and money seized from nine locations across Philadelphia and the region.
She said the pair, along with seven adult cohorts and two minors, bought and sold marijuana, cocaine and Ecstasy to high school and college students along the Main Line.
"This was not a game. These people were in business," she said.
"They were in business to make money and they were going to do whatever they needed to do to make sure no one threatened their business."
According to court documents, Scott and Brooks recruited students from five local high schools and three colleges as "subdealers" to distribute marijuana, cocaine, MDMA and hash oil. Each subdealer was expected to push at least a pound of weed a week.
In all, police confiscated 8 pounds of marijuana, 3 grams of hash oil, 23 grams of cocaine, 11 grams of MDMA and more than $11,000 in cash. They also found in Scott's apartment an assortment of loaded and ready-to-fire guns, ranging from a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol to an AR-15 assault rifle.
"Brooks instructed his high-school dealers to ensure there was never a drought, that there was always a supply to their assigned schools," Ferman said.
Scott allegedly encouraged college subdealers to identify new customers to offset the cost of driving to their campuses, with incentives like lower prices for bulk and the opportunity to buy on credit.
Shipments from California reportedly went to Scott's Haverford apartment, his parents' home in Paoli and Brooks' Villanova home.
Scott has been in custody since February on other charges. Shackled at the wrists and ankles and wearing a red prison jumpsuit, he hid his face from camera crews as he entered district court yesterday. He was being held on $1 million bail.
Scott's lawyer Tom Egan declined to comment on the case, noting that he had not yet read the 79-page indictment.
Brooks is free after his parents posted 10 percent of $250,000 bail yesterday morning.
"My client regrettably lost his way and he's admitted his wrongdoing thus far," Brooks' lawyer Greg Pagano said.
"He was suffering from some depression, to some extent. He was involved in this conspiracy for a very short period of time. He was at a very susceptible low point in his life."
Teens from Lower Merion, Conestoga, Harriton and Radnor high schools, as well as the Haverford School, allegedly were targeted as subdealers. Drugs were peddled on the campuses of Gettysburg, Lafayette and Haverford colleges.
At the Haverford School on Lancaster Avenue yesterday, the boys' lacrosse team ran after-school practice drills as John Nostrant, the lacrosse coach and athletic director, struggled to wrap his head around the scope of the allegations.
He wasn't surprised that drugs had found their way into his Main Line school - but hearing that his former players were accused of running a regional drug cartel left him shaken.
"The size," said Nostrant, a former All-America midfielder at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and a former All-Pro player for the Philadelphia Wings and Baltimore Thunder. "I never could have imagined something that big."
Nostrant said that Brooks, who graduated last year, was a "very good midfielder," and Scott, who graduated in 2007, was a "solid goalie."
"It's crushing to me," Nostrant said, struggling to hold back tears during an interview with the Daily News. "These guys are not too far removed from the program. I feel bad for their families. It's a sad day."
Nostrant said he would discuss the arrests with the team, hoping to turn the incident into a "teachable moment." Christian Euler, 23, a former Haverford School lacrosse player, is one of nine people charged with being a subdealer in the drug organization. Daniel McGrath, 18, also charged as a subdealer, is an All-Delco swimmer at the Haverford School, where he's a senior.
"I've coached over 1,000 kids, and it's tough to know what they are all doing" off the field, said Nostrant, himself a parent. "At the end of the day, they made some poor decisions and they will have to pay the consequences."
After school yesterday, some Haverford School students said they had heard of Brooks but didn't know him.
In addition to Scott, Brooks, McGrath and Euler, seven others were charged, including: Domenic Curcio, 29, of Philadelphia; Garrett Johnson, 18, of Jericho, N.Y.; Reid Cohen, 18, of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.; Willow Orr, 22, of South Philadelphia; John Rosemann, 20, of Weston, Conn.; and two minors.
They were charged with manufacturing and delivering controlled substances, criminal conspiracy and dealing in corrupt organizations. The preliminary hearing for all defendants - most of whom turned themselves in yesterday morning - is scheduled for 1:45 p.m. May 6 before Magisterial District Judge Kathleen Valentine in Ardmore.