Police Break Up Suspected Drug Ring At Mansfield University

By Justin Moss

July 22, 2010 Updated Nov 2, 2006 at 12:29 AM EDT

The state Attorney General's office calls it "Operation Failing Grade."

9 are arrested, 8 of them current or former Mansfield University students here at the campus in Tioga County, Pennsylvania.

Police say the ring involved more than half a million dollars worth of cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs.

Attorney General Tom Corbett says the ring leaders were Mansfield students William Millsip and Rodney Smith.

The two would head home to Philadelphia and bring back drugs for
students and other drug dealers.

"They made money on this and they also took a lot back to Philadelphia and somebody else was making money on this at the peril of the students at Mansfield and people of Tioga County," says Corbett.

Corbett says all the suspects will now appear before a judge, who will set bail.

Students like Melanie Ferry were surprised to hear about the suspected drug ring involving Mansfield students.

"I've never noticed it a lot at all, it's very rare that you hear about it," says Mansfield freshman Ferry.

Ferry and others says there are drugs on campus, but they try to stay away from them.

University President Maravene Loeschke admits it's a problem, but was still shocked at the scope of this suspected drug ring.

"We're not naive in thinking that we don't have drugs on the campus, but whenever it becomes a reality and your students are involved, it's about as sad as higher education gets," says Loeschke.

But Loeschke also says drugs turn up on every campus, and Mansfield is no different.

"I don't know if there's a drug problem, I know all universities in higher education are facing drugs on campus, whether or not we have a drug problem, I don't know, I don't think so," says Loeschke.

But students say more can be done to tackle the issue.

"If they went through like maybe more regular checks through people's dorm rooms, I think they would be able to find a lot more," says Mansfield freshman Maggie Stengel.

"I mean if it's on campus, it would be good to just get it away, then we'd all be good," says Mansfield freshman Rachael Carroll.

The school says it will now involve student groups and talk with them about what happened.

And in light of the suspected drug ring, Mansfield also says it wants students to know that it will now be cracking down especially hard.

Again, 9 people have been arrested, 4 of them are from the WBNG-TV viewing area.

Among the suspects are Laura Bliznik of Binghamton.

Police also arrested Olufemi Ogundele of Painted Post, Chad Blanchard of Towanda and Jason Brion of Mansfield.

Except for Brion, all of the suspects are, or were, Mansfield University students.

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