Evanston school custodian arrested for selling drugs

Alison Knezevich

An Evanston elementaryschool custodian was arrested Thursday night and charged withselling crack and powder cocaine on school grounds, policesaid.

Robert Crayton, 27, ofSkokie, was arrested at Lincolnwood Elementary School, 2600 ColfaxSt., on federal charges of delivery and distribution of drugs onschool property.

Crayton’s arrest wasthe result of a four-week undercover operation conducted jointly bythe Drug Enforcement Administration and Evanston Police Department,EPD Chief Frank Kaminski said at a Friday afternoon pressconference.

Crayton allegedly madethree drug transactions in the past month on school premises,including one inside a first-grade classroom, Kaminskisaid.

The typical transactionranged from an eighth of an ounce to a half-ounce of cocaine, or$80 to $400, Kaminski said.

According to the complaintaffidavit, a confidential source working with investigators madefour undercover purchases of crack cocaine from Crayton at nightafter school was out.

On Oct. 7, the sourceallegedly met Crayton at the school and then bought an eighth of anounce of crack cocaine for $90 in his car, according to a U.S.Department of Justice statement.

Five days later, theconfidential source allegedly arranged to buy more from Crayton atthe school, but Crayton changed the location of the deal to anEvanston medical facility for the elderly, the statementsaid.

On Oct. 21, officerswatched through a window as the confidential source talked forabout 10 minutes with Crayton in a classroom and bought about fivegrams of powder cocaine for $80, the statement said.

The source told agents theroom was a first-grade classroom and that Crayton took the drugsout of a blue duffel bag that was locked inside a cabinet in theback of the classroom.

There is no evidence thatCrayton dealt drugs to students, said both Kaminski and DEA agentTimothy Ogden. Neither would comment on how long Crayton may havebeen selling drugs out of the school.

Kaminski said he was”especially disturbed” by Crayton’s arrest.

“We view our schools as asafe haven for our little people, a special place to grow andlearn,” Kaminski said, reading from a prepared statement. “Anyonewho would break the sanctity of our schools deserves he harshest ofpunishment and our utmost disdain. Mr. Crayton has dishonored ourchildren, our community an the school district.”

Lincolnwood ElementaryPrincipal Beth Sagett told The Daily that Crayton seemed like a”really nice guy, very helpful to all of us.”

“He knew many of thechildren because he cleaned the rooms,” Sagett said.

District 65 superintendentHardy Ray Murphy said Crayton was hired as the night custodian in1996 and worked the 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. shift.

“We are profoundlydisappointed and disturbed,” Murphy said, calling the drug-dealing”a reprehensible act.”

He said when Crayton washired, he had to sign a statement pledging to abide by the schooldistrict’s drug policy. A new policy instituted after Craytonbegan working in the district requires all potential districtemployees to be checked by an outside firm that uses electronicfingerprinting scans.

A meeting for Lincolnwoodparents was scheduled for Friday night, Murphy said. If convicted,Crayton could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000fine.

The Daily’s BenClark contributed to this report.

Reach Alison Knezevich at[email protected].