Ex-basketball coach for Columbia High School pleads guilty to attempted drug trafficking

The former head basketball coach at Columbia High School pleaded guilty Thursday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court to drug activity between him and a former student.

Matthew Sheets, 31, of Chatham, pleaded guilty to attempted trafficking in marijuana, a lesser offense, and offenses involving underage persons. Sheets was facing a charge of trafficking in marijuana.

Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery’s office could not confirm at the time of the call if the lesser offense was part of a plea deal.

Court officials have not set a sentencing date, pending a pre-sentence investigation.

The school district originally placed Sheets on administrative leave. He later resigned, Superintendent Graig Bansek said.

The Lorain County Drug Task Force obtained a search warrant to look at Sheets’ phones. The warrant was to investigate possible drug activity between Sheets and a 19-year-old female, the search warrant stated.

According to an affidavit by task force officer James Larkin, on Oct. 15, 2012, the teen’s mother went to the Lorain County Sheriff’s Office and reported drug activity between her daughter and other individuals after her daughter attempted suicide Oct. 14.

The mother found her daughter’s cellphone and looked through her text messages which seemed to indicate the teen was getting marijuana from Sheets, authorities said.

In text messages to another person, the daughter said she had been “hooking up” with her former teacher and had been getting marijuana and bud, the affidavit said. Sheets’ number was labeled as “Jerry Parsons” in her daughter’s phone, but the mother did a Google search of the name and found it was Sheets’ number, the affidavit stated.

The mother found a message on her daughter’s Facebook account to “Jerry Parsons” stating she would send pictures “or whatever he (Sheets) wants in return for beer and some bud,” according to court papers.

Sheets, who told the teen that no one can trace him, said she would have to be “real nice” and a “real special person” for him to get the bud for her, the affidavit stated.

On Oct. 13, 2012, the teen told Sheets she had a really good time and would see him next weekend and would save the beer for tomorrow night, the affidavit stated. The mother told Larkin she found a full case of beer in her daughter’s room.

Larkin served a search warrant on Sheets on Oct. 19, 2012, and took his cellphone. Sheets said he did meet the girl Oct. 12 at a bar near her home.

He admitted to Larkin that he supplied her with beer, but he denied giving her marijuana or bud. He also admitted to receiving nude texts of the girl and engaging in a sexual act Oct. 12, the affidavit stated.

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