Leland Middle teacher arrested for growing pot after officers respond to fire call, resigns next day

Catherine Lee Teague, 47, was arrested Tuesday after law enforcement responded to a structure fire at her residence and found nearly 25 pounds of weed. (Port City Daily/Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY SCHOOLS –– A Brunswick County Schools teacher is facing criminal charges after law enforcement officers responded to her home on a structure fire call Tuesday and allegedly uncovered 24.6 pounds of marijuana and pot plants growing in her backyard.

Catherine Lee Teague, a sixth-grade math and science teacher at Leland Middle, was arrested Tuesday on felony charges of trafficking marijuana; possession with intent to sell, manufacture or distribute marijuana; and manufacturing marijuana. She’s also charged with a misdemeanor for possessing drug paraphernalia.

She resigned from her teaching position Wednesday shortly after 1 p.m., about a half-hour after the school system issued a public statement to the media.

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Officers discovered weed growing in a greenhouse under artificial lights and in pots in Teague’s backyard on Dogwood Circle in Leland, according to warrants from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. The documents also state she had a plastic bong, grinder and rolling papers.

Joshua Swaim, 47, was also arrested Tuesday at the residence for a misdemeanor of possessing drug paraphernalia, as well as felony charges for trafficking marijuana; possession with intent to manufacture, sell or distribute a Schedule VI substance; and manufacturing marijuana.

Law enforcement officers discovered the weed while responding to the home for a structure fire around 2 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office spokesperson and an incident report. According to the Northwest Fire Department, a small fire started in the upstairs bathroom due to a “cheap, low-grade extension cord” that was left plugged in.

Teague, 47, has been out of classrooms since Jan. 19, when she was approved for a leave of absence. The reason for the time off is confidential, though leaves can vary from personal reasons to medical and maternity purposes, to just needing “a long vacation,” district spokesperson Daniel Seamans said.

Seamans said the district expected to keep Teague on leave following her arrest, until the school system “had an opportunity to review this matter.” She resigned soon after the message was sent.

Teague has worked in Brunswick County Schools since 1996 and most recently earned $54,700 annually, or $5,000 a month plus local supplements.

She is currently being held in the Brunswick County jail with a $110,500 secured bond.

This is a developing story. This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Email tips and comments to Alex Sands at alexandria@localdailymedia.com

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