Venn, former teacher, Shamokin Area School Board member, faces cocaine charge
SHAMOKIN - A former teacher and member of the Shamokin Area School Board was arraigned Thursday on charges he worked through a drug ring to obtain cocaine for personal use.
Daniel K. Venn, 64, of 1545 W. Nelson St., Coal Township, was charged with one misdemeanor count each of possession of a controlled substance and criminal conspiracy before Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III. He was released on $20,000 unsecured bail.
According to court documents filed by Shamokin Police Cpl. Bryan Primerano and Agent David Jordan of the state Attorney General's Office, Venn is accused of obtaining cocaine at various times between the summer of 2008 and June 2013 and of conspiring with others to purchase or obtain cocaine from Darryl Kashner and several other people apprehended in a September drug raid stemming from a statewide grand jury investigation.
Venn's arraignment lasted only a few minutes, with Venn and his attorney, Vincent Rovito Jr., of Shamokin, and Jordan standing before Gembic. After going over the charges, Gembic said he would set bail.
"The only thing that we ask is that the bail be unsecured," Rovito said. "My client has ties to the community, has a steady job and family here, and makes every assurance that he will appear every time he is needed for court."
Unsecured bail requires only a signature, and does not involve real property, a monetary note or cash. But failure to appear for a proceeding requires the full amount be paid.
Gembic agreed with Venn's request.
Venn, through Rovito, then immediately waived his right to a preliminary hearing and sent the case to county court. Rovito said he will work with the prosecuting attorney, Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard, on a plea arrangement.
Venn did not offer any comment following the arraignment.
Drug ring led to arrest
The charges against Venn resulted from a grand jury that in November 2012 brought charges against several individuals for trafficking cocaine and heroin in the Northumberland County area between January 2010 and July 2013. In the investigation, several witnesses testified that Kashner was a supplier and distributor. Court documents show Venn was one of the people who testified in front of the grand jury.
"Multiple witnesses, including the defendant, revealed that (he) was obtaining cocaine for personal use at various times in various multiple gram quantities," the affidavit reads, "and conspiring with others to purchase or obtain cocaine from Darryl Kashner and a number of others identified in the Northumberland and Lackawanna County areas between and including the summer of 2008 to June 2013."
Kashner was named as one of the lower-level dealers for ringleader Juan Carlos Alvarez, currently incarcerated in Lackawanna County Prison, who, at the time of his arrest in September, was charged with bringing at least $2 million of drugs into Pennsylvania since 2012.
Decades with school
A lifetime resident of Coal Township, Venn was employed by Shamokin Area School District as an industrial arts teacher. During his tenure, he served as a department chairperson for the technical education department and a class adviser. He retired from the district in 2006 after 34 years of employment.
He was also a wrestling coach for many years at all levels, from elementary to varsity, and the proprietor of a successful carpet cleaning business for 19 years.
In 2007, Venn became a candidate for the Shamokin Area School Board with four other individuals, running as a slate called the "Committee for Quality Education." Venn and three of the four other candidates successfully won their campaigns and sat on the board from 2007 to 2011.