Charges have been dropped against a New York pair after tests showed that the 2 kilograms of cocaine they were said to possess was shown to be homemade soap.
Annadel Cruz, 26, and her passenger, Alexander Bernstein, spent almost a month in jail after being pulled over on an interstate in Pennsylvania for driving 5 mph above the speed limit and hugging the side of the lane, Raw Story reports.
The trooper said that he smelled marijuana, and Cruz, who was driving, confessed to smoking the drug before she left New York City. She then consented to a search of the new Mercedes-Benz she was driving, and the trooper subsequently found two packages covered in clear plastic wrap and red tape.
Cruz said it was her homemade soap, but when the trooper performed a field test, it allegedly showed traces of cocaine; a small amount of marijuana was also found in Cruz’s bra. The trooper arrested Cruz and Bernstein; they were charged with possession with intent to deliver cocaine, possession of cocaine, conspiracy and possession of drug paraphernalia, the news site reports. Cruz was slapped with additional charges for possession of a small amount of marijuana and disregarding traffic lanes and speeding.
Bernstein was held on a $500,000 bond, and Cruz on a $250,000 bond. Both remained in jail until last week, when a state police lab confirmed that the packages didn’t contain any cocaine, just soap, as Cruz had said.
Attorneys are now speculating that it is a case of profiling, suggesting that the trooper discriminated against the couple and botched 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 Bernstein’s attorney, Josh Karoly. “If it was me driving that car, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“After this, everyone should pause about jumping to conclusions when a field test is said to be positive by law enforcement,” said attorney Robert Goldman, who represents Cruz. “There are people going to jail on high bail amounts based upon these field tests.
“Her name is all over the place, making light of her defense that she was just transporting soap,” Goldman said about his client, who has never had any previous run-ins with the law. “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.”