Music majors at Conservatory busted running a drugs lab

Four students from the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music led dual lives — successfully pursuing studies in voice, piano and violin while operating clandestine drug labs to manufacture the illegal drug Ecstasy…

Benjamin Knight, 24, Lauren Pajerski, 22, Max Cickovskis, 22, and Jonathan Beckwith, 23, were indicted Nov. 16 on numerous charges, including assembly or possession of chemicals for the manufacture of drugs and cultivating marijuana. Knight and Pajerski were also charged with theft and burglary.

Public records and interviews with police are filling in details of an unusual drug case that made news with the arrest of the students last month.

I am just grateful nothing blew up and no one got hurt,” said Berea police Detective Dennis Bort, the lead investigator who spent months gathering evidence. “The moral of this case is book-smart, street-stupid…”

Bort called them typical “suburban kids with silver spoons. … They were good students…”

…Bort investigated the case throughout the summer to determine who was involved and why they wanted chemicals and equipment. The case took time because Bort had to go to cellular service providers to obtain the students’ text messages, which outlined the drug-making plans, he said.

Bort said the students texted one another about ordering specific chemicals and equipment and how they should not order everything from the same place using the same name to avoid attracting attention from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency…

“Some of the messages were pretty funny,” Bort said. “He said he had a really sweet hat for [the break-in] and she said a fedora is not B-and-E [breaking and entering] wear.”

Information from text messages indicated the students cooked drugs in the garage at Knight’s home in Madison on June 12, in the same vacant dorm room in Findley Hall on June 20 and in a condominium at Geneva-on-the-Lake on June 22, Bort said…

“They were fairly diversified,” Bort said. “She had the technical knowledge to set it up, and Ben handled the logistics of acquiring. Max seems to be more sales-oriented.”

The investigation is still under way to determine who was buying the drugs, Bort said.

In other words, they could have had a terrific future in business if they had only turned their entrepreneurial talents to something legal.

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