Teacher Guilty of Selling Drugs to Middle School Students

Maria Otilia Rivera, 37, was found guilty of two counts of Possession of a Controlled Substance with the Intent to Sell Within 1000 Feet of a School, one count of Sale in Lieu of a Controlled Substance, and two counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor following a one day bench trial in Hendry County. A bench trial is a trial in front of a judge but without a jury.

The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office started an investigation in 2017 which revealed that Rivera, a teacher at Clewiston Middle School, sold illegal drugs to two students at the school – a 12 year old girl and 14 year old girl. Rivera would take both of the girls off campus and teach them how to prepare and ingest the drugs. The investigation indicated that these young girls had never used drugs prior to this.

Additionally, at another time, Rivera took money from a student while at the school and promised to deliver illegal drugs the following day. The Hendry County Sheriff’s Office was alerted and interrupted this transaction, at which time controlled substances were found in Rivera’s possession.

Rivera’s sentencing is scheduled for October 16th in LaBelle. She faces up to 35 years in prison. Following her conviction, the State requested that Rivera be remanded into the custody of the Hendry County jail pending sentencing. The presiding judge denied that request and, over the State’s objection, allowed Rivera to remain out of custody pending sentencing.

Assistant State Attorney Kimberlee Mitton of the Hendry County State Attorney’s Office Special Victims Unit prosecuted the case.

Samantha Syoen
Communications Director
State Attorney’s Office