People charged in meth ring to appear in court

Eleven people charged with trafficking and delivering more than 500 grams of methamphetamine throughout Walworth County are scheduled to appear in court between now and Oct. 25.

      Frederick M. Taylor, 46, of Burlington, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Sept. 19.

      Sean M. Mason, 45, of Red Granite Correctional Institution, pleaded not guilty July 14.

      Initial appearances were scheduled to resume Aug. 30 for Krystal D. Gehrke, 37, of Racine, Sept. 1 for Kenneth W. Chadwick, 55, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Sept. 8 for Shauna Gonzalez Garza, 35, of Burlington.

      Arraignments are scheduled for Sept. 2 for Christopher F. McFadden, 35, of Waterford, and Sept. 12 for Bryan N. Tidwell, 38, for whom no address is listed.

      Status conferences are scheduled for Sept. 15 for Jillian R. Leighton, 38, of Burlington, Oct. 25 for Michelle A. Lyons, 43, of Lake Geneva, Aug. 30 for Joshua C. Potter, 34, of Whitewater, and Sept. 29 for Thomas D. Schultz, 34, of Elkhorn.

      All are charged with conspiracy to commit delivery of methamphetamine or delivery of methamphetamine.

      The offenses carry maximum penalties of 40 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

      In a 16-page criminal complaint, police outline an investigation that began in 2020 and involved the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office, the Unites States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Racine County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Burlington Police Department, the United States Postal Service, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Janesville Police Department.

      The complaint details surveillance of drug trafficking or controlled buys at the Blue Top Motel in the Town of Bloomfield, a home at N6254 Highway 36 in the Town of Lyons known as “The Farm,” a home at W5512 Barley Road in the Town of Sugar Creek and a home on Larch Road in the Town of Geneva.

      The complaint recounts multiple recorded jail house calls between the defendants discussing meth sales and payment for them, interviews with meth users who identified the defendants as meth suppliers and controlled purchases of methamphetamine.

      According to the criminal complaint, police believe Mason and Taylor were the primary suppliers of the drugs that were distributed to others to sell. Mason would travel to Arizona to purchase methamphetamine from Chadwick or Chadwick would send meth to Mason in the mail, according to the complaint.

      The Walworth County Drug Unit received information in September and October 2020 about illegal drugs sales and use at the Blue Top Motel and began conducting surveillance there, according to the complaint. Deputies observed known drug users in various rooms of the motel and saw a Jeep registered to Tidwell leaving the motel, according to the complaint.

      Police then began conducting surveillance at “The Farm” where Tidwell lived and learned Lyons, Garza and others also lived there, according to the complaint. Known drug users including McFadden were seen coming and going from a barn to the house on the property, according to the complaint.

      Lyons’ car was seen at “The Farm,” and Taylor bonded Lyons out of jail on Dec. 1, 2020, according to the complaint. During a jail call from Lyons to McFadden that day, Lyons tells McFadden that Tidwell is running things at the house but things are “out of control,” the complaint states. McFadden offers to get “Sean,” believed to be Mason, and “regulate things,” according to the complaint.

      Later that month, the landlord of the Highway 36 home reported suspected drug activity there with vehicles coming and going from the property, according to the complaint.

      In January 2021, police saw Taylor at “The Farm,” and an informant told police Tidwell was selling meth to many customers there, according to the complaint. The informant identified others who were frequenting the residence and buying meth there and said “Chris,” believed to be McFadden, brought “big bags” of meth to the home where it is divided out to three dealers including Tidwell. The informant also reported obtaining meth from Garza, the complaint states.

      On Jan. 15, 2021, police conducted a controlled buy of meth from Tidwell at “The Farm,” and the informant who purchased the drugs identified another man, who was in a relationship with Lyons, who was also distributing meth from that location, according to the complaint.

      On Jan. 20, 2021, police conducted a controlled buy of meth from the Barley Road home in the Town of Sugar Creek and saw a car registered to a resident of Larch Road in the Town of Geneva.

      On Feb. 1, 2021, a woman caught with meth named a previously identified dealer who frequented Lyons’ Highway 36 residence and said Garza, two other men also previously identified by other informants, McFadden and Potter were all dealing meth and frequenting “The Farm,” according to the complaint. She said one of the dealers lived with Taylor in Burlington, the complaint states.

      On Feb. 5, 2021, police responded to a non-fatal drug overdoes on Sunrise Trail in the Town of Lyons and stopped a vehicle in the area occupied by McFadden and two others, according to the complaint. Two days later, McFadden, Garza and another known drug user were found in a suspicious vehicle at the Quality Inn in East Troy, according to the complaint.

      When Mason was held in jail on a probation hold in February 2021, he spoke to Leighton from jail and told her to tell Taylor he could notify “everybody else” that he was arrested and to tell Taylor to “collect,” according to the complaint.

      Mason was arrested for a probation violation again in May 2021, and Gehrke was with him at the Crossroads Motel in the Town of Lafayette at the time of his arrest, according to the complaint. In recorded jail calls from Mason to Gehrke, Mason asks Gehrke if she got everything out of the room including a “pew pew,” which is a nickname for a gun, and asks if he missed any calls from Arizona where Chadwick, his suspected supplier, lives, according to the complaint.

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