A Kenosha County mother has been charged for helping her son's alleged illegal large-scale vaping operation.
Courtney Huffhines, 43, made her initial court appearance Tuesday. She was charged with six felonies including maintaining a drug trafficking place, misappropriate ID info - obtain money as a party to a crime and possession with intent to deliver THC over 1000 grams.
Huffhines' son Tyler is accused of running the large-scale operation. Her other son Jacob is accused of playing a role in the scheme.
"The information we have is that she was saying she was gathering items," said Lesli Boese, a special prosecutor from Waukesha County. "She would not detail what those items were, but the state believes that she may have been gathering cash."
According to a criminal complaint, an informant who was involved in the operation told investigators at one point workers manufactured THC vape cartridges in Courtney's Union Grove realty office. The informant said Courtney knew about it and saw them filling the cartridges.
The informant said using Courtney's office was only temporary. The plan was to use a condo in Bristol, but Tyler and Courtney did not have the rights to the condo yet.
Court records stated the manufacturing at the office halted temporarily after one of the people involved was stopped by police, and Tyler moved materials from the office space to another location until the condo was ready.
Investigators said that Courtney managed the condo where the manufacturing took place and she helped with the identity theft for the lease.
A search warrant for the realty office led to the discovery of items tied to vape manufacturing including cooking pots, hot plates and vape cartridges.
The complaint detailed a text message thread between Courtney and Tyler that started in August after a member of the operation was arrested.
In the thread Courtney wrote: "I need you to talk to me when you can. I love you. I'm going to see if I can sleep but not sure that is possible."
To which Tyler replied with: "Love you too and get some sleep. I'm okay just have to take precautions."
In the exchange, Courtney told her son to put scales away. By late August, she shared an article urging people to stop using vape cartridge because of reported injuries and deaths.
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth responded to the latest update in the investigation.
"She has a Wisconsin QUEST card, so she’s getting benefits from the state of Wisconsin," said Sheriff Beth. "So she is defrauding a lot of people on a state level, and she’s also part of this entire vaping cartridge - this little crime ring with her family."
The prosecutor said the Food and Drug Administration will test some of the cartridges in the Huffhines case to see if there is a connection to any vaping related illnesses and deaths.