Xenophilia (True Strange Stuff)

The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist

Charges dropped against couple after two kilos of cocaine turn out to be hand soap

When a state trooper pulled the couple over along Interstate 78 last month, he said he stopped them because they were going 5 miles over the speed limit and hugging the side of the lane.

The trooper said he smelled marijuana. The driver of the new Mercedes-Benz, 26-year-old Annadel Cruz, told him she had smoked the drug before she left New York City, but had not done so in the car.

The trooper asked to search the car, and Cruz consented. When the trooper found two plastic-wrapped packages in the trunk of the car, Cruz told him they contained soap she had made herself.

The trooper field-tested them and Cruz and her friend, 30-year-old Alexander Bernstein, spent the next month in Lehigh County Prison after being arrested on cocaine-trafficking charges.

They got out this week after the Lehigh County district attorney’s office dropped the charges because a state police lab tested the packages and found they contained boric acid or soap.

Attorneys for the couple are questioning the investigation, accusing the trooper of profiling the couple and botching the field test.

“I think it is a nice car with out-of-state plates and a Hispanic female behind the wheel” that prompted the traffic stop, said Josh Karoly, who represents Bernstein. “If it was me driving that car, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Cruz’s attorney, Robert Goldman, said, “After this, everyone should pause about jumping to conclusions when a field test is said to be positive by law enforcement. There are people going to jail on high bail amounts based upon these field tests.”

Bernstein was sent to prison under $500,000 bail and Cruz under $250,000 bail by District Judge Jacob Hammond.

Field tests are used by police departments to test substances believed to be drugs at suspected crime scenes. A sample of the substance is mixed with a liquid, causing a reaction and change in color that will indicate if it is an illegal drug, Karoly said.

That substance will then be sent to the state police lab for further analysis and testing.

Karoly said he believes the field test either didn’t happen, it was lied about or something is wrong with how it was done.

“A young man spent a month in jail, spent a substantial amount of money to get out of jail and missed Thanksgiving with his 17-month-old son,” he said. “To do

that on a field test, we better be darn sure that these field tests are accurate.”

Bernstein’s bail was posted Tuesday, a day before the district attorney’s office called to let him know they were dropping charges. Cruz, a community college student, was released from prison Wednesday, Goldman said. Goldman said Cruz had no criminal record before the Nov. 13 stop in South Whitehall Township.

While his client is happy to be released, Goldman said it will take time to recover from the stigma of being incarcerated as a drug offender.

“Her name is all over the place, making light of her defense that she was just transporting soap,” he said. “She was labeled online as a drug dealer, she was incarcerated with people who do commit crimes.

“It’s going to take her a good deal of time to get her good name back,” Goldman said. …

“We are so cynical that we don’t believe people,” Karoly said. “We don’t give people the benefit of the doubt.” …

via Charges dropped against couple after two kilos of cocaine turn out to be hand soap – Morning Call.

Let that be a lesson to you, soap makers!

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This entry was posted on December 17, 2013 by in Crime, Strange.
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