Student allegedly sold drugs to undercover cops

Andrew Hampp

The Portage County Drug Task Force has one officer from each of its seven police departments actively investigating possible drug cases all across the county.

But no one would be able to identify them as policemen.

By the time Taylor Zigo, junior pre-finance major, was arrested Monday for trafficking marijuana and possessing criminal tools, Zigo allegedly had sold marijuana to three separate undercover members of the task force, according to Portage County Sheriff Duane Kaley.

Kaley said the number of officers who allegedly bought the drugs from Zigo was crucial.

“What you try to show is the fact that this person would sell on more than one opportunity and would sell to other individuals,” he said.

Kaley added that Zigo’s student status had no bearing on the task force’s investigation into his case.

“This was merely a student who attended Kent State University,” he said. “This person could have worked at a computer company. It doesn’t matter.”

Zigo is currently being held in the Portage County Jail on a $20,000 bond, according to police reports, and will have a preliminary hearing Friday in Kent Municipal Court.

Portage County Prosecutor and Drug Task Force Board Member Victor Vigluicci said Zigo will be charged with three fifth-degree felonies – one for each sale to the undercover cops – that each carry a one-year prison sentence. The grand jury also may indict Zigo on a fourth count of drug trafficking, Vigluicci said.

Zigo also had an outstanding warrant from the Huron County Police Department for driving while intoxicated, which entails a maximum sentence of 60 days in county jail, Kaley said.

Although the task force has officers from Kent, Ravenna, Windham, Brimfield, Streetsboro and Aurora, the Kent State Police Department is no longer officially involved. Chief John Peach said the department had to back out last May because of financial problems that caused them to bring former task force supervising officer Lt. William Shanafelt back on to the university division.

“We had a reduction in staff that required his expertise and support,” Peach said of Shanafelt. “At the same time, we support the (new) task force.”

Vigluicci said the new task force line-up has worked “really well” so far as a county-wide jurisdiction. Its funding is obtained from all of the member agencies or police departments, he added.

Shanafelt said he has lost contact with the current task force but added that their detectives have plenty of drug activity to investigate.

The task force officers work 40 or more hours a week investigating drug crimes, and are constantly pursuing multiple cases at a time, Kaley said. He and Vigluicci are the only identifiable members of the task force.

“I’m the buffer,” Kaley said. “Identification is so important, as long as we can protect it.”

Vigluicci added that conducting in drug-related activity is very dangerous, particularly among college students.

“It can ruin your career,” he said. “It can cancel your scholarships, prevent you from entering into many occupations. It’s hardly worth the momentary thrill you get from drugs to ruin your life over it.”

Contact public affairs reporter Andrew Hampp at [email protected].