Teacher out of classroom as DUI, drug charges loom

The Powell Middle School instructor faces two felony drug charges after deputies find pills.

By JOHN FRANK, Times Staff Writer
Published November 14, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - A Hernando County social studies teacher is no longer in the classroom after being arrested over the weekend.

Powell Middle School teacher Jesse T. Mockler, 30, faces charges of driving under the influence and drug trafficking after deputies stopped him on Cortez Boulevard near Brooksville Regional Hospital about 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

A deputy stopped Mockler's four-door black Suzuki after seeing him drive 10 mph below the speed limit and fail to stay in his lane. Mockler told deputies he had just left a party at his friend's house, where he drank four beers, according to a Sheriff's Office arrest report.

Mockler consented to sobriety tests, during which deputies said he displayed "extreme signs of impairment," the report said.

During the traffic stop, deputies found 12 Roxicet pills, which is the narcotic oxycodone, in his right pant pocket, the report said. When asked about the pills, Mockler laughed, saying he gets excited when he drinks and takes the pills to calm down, the report said.

The pills weighed a combined 7.6 grams, prompting the felony drug trafficking charge. Sheriff's officials said more than 4 grams elevates the charge from simple possession to trafficking.

Authorities also charged Mockler with felony possession of illegal drugs after they discovered three muscle relaxant pills wrapped in aluminum foil inside his jacket on the back seat, the report said.

On the way to the jail, Mockler pleaded with deputies to let him go. He said he would lose his job and the whole incident was overblown. Mockler told deputies that everybody drinks and drives and that he didn't know why he was being singled out, the report said.

He was released from the Hernando County Jail just after midnight Sunday on $51,000 bail.

Hernando County school officials said Mockler is no longer teaching, pending an investigation.

"We're waiting to see if any charges are pressed against him," superintendent Wayne Alexander said. "We'll go from there."

Two weeks ago, a Hernando County school bus driver was yanked off the road after he was accused of spanking a 3-year-old girl during a bus stop and arrested.

Alexander said the driver, Christopher O'Brien, 47, was recently suspended without pay.

Staff writer Tom Marshall contributed to this report. John Frank can be reached at jfrank@sptimes.com or 352 754-6114.