Leland Middle School teacher resigns, accused of possessing nearly 25 pounds of marijuana

Catherine Neely
Catherine Neely(Brunswick County Sheriff's Office)
Updated: May. 12, 2021 at 4:16 PM EDT
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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - A sixth-grade math and science teacher at Leland Middle School has resigned after she was arrested Wednesday, accused of possessing nearly 25 pounds of marijuana.

A news release from Brunswick County Schools announcing the arrest states that Catherine Neely, 47, had been on an approved leave of absence from the district since Jan. 19.

Warrants provided by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office allege Neely, who is listed as Catherine Teague, was growing marijuana “hydroponically in a greenhouse under artificial light and in pots in the backyard with natural light” at her home on Dogwood Circle in the Sandy Creek area.

“I am like shocked,” said nearby neighbor Cara Pinto. “Especially I knew that she was a teacher but I didn’t know that she was a middle school teacher. Not that it matters but 25 pounds of pot from a teacher, that’s pretty concerning to me.”

Deputies seized approximately 24.6 pounds of marijuana and various drug paraphernalia including a plastic bong, grinder, and rolling papers, warrants state.

A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said the marijuana was discovered after deputies and the Northwest Fire Department responded to a possible structure fire call at the home on Tuesday.

Neely was arrested on Wednesday and charged with trafficking marijuana, manufacturing marijuana, possession with intent to manufacture/sell/deliver marijuana, and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. She was given a $110,500 bond.

Neely did not engage with teaching students during her leave of absence, and submitted her resignation following her arrest, district officials said.

She had been with Brunswick County Schools since 1996.

“Everything’s quiet, everyone’s neighborly, there’s no issues whatsoever,” said Pinto. “So to have this happen is scary.”

Joshua Swaim, 47, who was also living at the home, was taken into custody on the same charges Tuesday, according to warrants. His relationship with Neely wasn’t immediately known. Swaim was similarly given a $110,500 bond.

Joshua Swaim
Joshua Swaim(Brunswick County Sheriff's Office)

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