Pubdate: Tue, 21 Nov 2006
Source: Pantagraph, The  (Bloomington, IL)
Copyright: 2006 Pantagraph Publishing Co.
Author: Greg Cima
Note: MAP archives articles exactly as published, except that our 
editors may redact the names and addresses of accused persons who 
have not been convicted of a crime, if those named are not otherwise 
public figures or officials. if
Bookmark: (Policing - United States)
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)
Bookmark: (Marijuana)


BLOOMINGTON -- Prosecutors dropped charges Tuesday against a 
[redacted] accused of being caught with 10 pounds of marijuana in his 
car trunk.

The move followed a judge's ruling earlier this month that a police 
search in the case was illegal.

[redacted], was arrested following a traffic stop Feb. 8 on West 
Market Street. Court records say [redacted] car did not have a 
functioning light over the rear license plate.

After stopping him, Bloomington police patted him down and found 4.6 
grams of marijuana in a plastic bag in one of his pockets, according 
to court documents. A subsequent search found 10 pounds of marijuana 
in the trunk of his car.

He was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and unlawful 
possession of marijuana with intent to deliver the drug, according to 
court documents.

"The judge found that the officers discovered the drugs following a 
search, which was not justified," said Assistant Public Defender 
Brian McEldowney. "They did a pat-down search, and the judge found 
there was no basis for that."

Bloomington police spokesman Duane Moss said department officials may 
have comments on the case Wednesday, but they still were examining 
the ruling Tuesday afternoon.

A message left for a prosecutor handling the case was not immediately returned.

McEldowney said the marijuana found in the trunk was inadmissible 
because it is "the fruit of the poisonous tree" -- evidence that 
would not have been discovered without the unjustified search of 
[redacted]'s pockets.

"The police do a great job on the whole," McEldowney said. "And they 
were following their instincts, and their instincts were right: There 
was a lot of drugs there. But the judge found that they didn't have 
the basis to do the pat-down search, which led to the discovery of 
some of the drugs and the ultimate discovery of the rest of them."

An officer searched [redacted] because of safety concerns, and he 
smelled a strong odor of marijuana during the search, prosecutors 
said in a document filed in response to the defense motion 
challenging the search.

McEldowney said he was not in a position to say why his client was 
driving a car containing marijuana or whether he knew the drugs were 
there. He said the issue of ownership of the drugs would have come up 
in a trial. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake