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West Jefferson Hills teacher wanted on drug charges turns himself in to authorities

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By Dona Dreeland
Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, 12:21 p.m.

A Thomas Jefferson High School teacher and his live-in girlfriend turned themselves in on Wednesday on charges they grew marijuana in a hidden room in their basement.

Scott Houck, 41, is suspended with pay from his job as an industrial arts teacher. He has worked in the West Jefferson Hills School District for 11 years.

“This had nothing whatsoever to do with the school district or any students,” said Houck's attorney, Charles LoPresti.

Neither Houck nor his girlfriend, Taylor Bottone, 23, could be reached for comment.

“Police do not believe the charges had anything to do with the district,” said Superintendent Michael Panza.

Police began investigating the pair in September, according to court documents. Officers went to their Sebolt Road home in South Park early on Sept. 17 to check on Bottone. The court documents did not say why.

South Park police and state troopers said they obtained a search warrant for the home after investigating the pair for several weeks. Inside, police said they found several marijuana plants growing in a room concealed by a hidden door, plus heating lamps, fertilizer, irrigation pumps and other items used to grow marijuana. They said they found two bags containing 5 ounces of pot.

Police searched Houck's classroom and computer at Thomas Jefferson in Jefferson Hills, Panza said.

Houck and Bottone turned themselves in at the Pleasant Hills office of District Judge Guy Reschenthaler, who arraigned them on felony counts of conspiracy and manufacturing of marijuana, and misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

They were released after each posted a $10,000 unsecured bond. Preliminary hearings are scheduled for Feb. 5.

Elsewhere, a warrant has been issued for a special education teacher in Washington County who is charged with possession of drugs and paraphernalia as well as disorderly conduct for an incident that occurred on Dec. 28 in Centerville, state court records show.

Jacqueline M. Righetti, 45, of Roscoe, who works in the Bethlehem-Center School District, has been suspended with pay pending further investigation, school superintendent Linda Marcolini said.

Dona Dreeland is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-388-5803 or Staff Writers Tom Fontaine and Michael Hasch contributed to this report.

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