CROWN POINT — "You are only 24 years old. What you did was darn bad to use this substance in a classroom," Judge Salvador Vasquez said as he sentenced Samantha Cox to one year of probation for possession of cocaine.
The former Lake Central High School English teacher pleaded guilty to the level 6 felony Aug. 16. Cox was arrested after a video surfaced of her snorting cocaine in an empty classroom Nov. 22 at the high school.
At the beginning of Friday’s sentencing hearing, defense attorney Ray Szarmach asked Vasquez to sentence Cox based on a misdemeanor charge. But the judge said that plea was “problematic” because of the nature of the possession charge.
Vasquez told Cox that if she could document continued treatment for drug abuse, she can petition the court after six months to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.
“You don’t need to be saddled with a felony,” Vasquez said. “You have a bright future. … The ball’s in your court.”
Addressing the court, the Cedar Lake resident expressed her regret for her choices.
The use of cocaine “gave me a false sense of confidence,” Cox said. “I can’t even believe I made that decision (to snort cocaine in the classroom).”
Although she lost her teaching position, Cox said she hopes to obtain her Ph.D. and teach at the college level.
“Your decision is fair,” she told Vasquez.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Rooda said the remaining charge of possession of paraphernalia was dismissed.
“Think it was overall a good result," Szarmach said after the hearing. “Their decision was not an easy decision, but it shows the problem we have with drugs in our culture. … She gets to move on.”