Pubdate: Thu, 04 Feb 2010
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2010 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Nicole O'Reilly
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Believed Drug Charge From 30 Years Ago Was Done With

A 74-year-old Hamilton grandmother and health-care support worker had 
spoken openly with her family about a drug charge she received in New 
York City nearly 30 years ago -- a charge she believed was settled 
and in her past, said the woman's daughter.

But an April 1, 1980, warrant for possession of marijuana with the 
intent to distribute remained on the books. And with no statute of 
limitations on drug charges, Homenella Cole was arrested by U.S. 
Customs and Border Protection officers on Monday and remains in state custody.

The warrant cites 12 pounds of marijuana found in Cole's possession 
29 years ago, said a border officer. Cole would have been in her 
mid-40s at the time.

She later described the incident as a "mistake" in her past, "she 
said it was all resolved," said Cole's daughter Charmaine from her 
Hamilton home. "She had no idea."

Fighting back tears, she said she hasn't spoken with her mother since 
the arrest and has received little information from U.S. officials.

"They haven't told me anything," Charmaine said, adding that she has 
no idea when her mom will be in court.

She is concerned about her mother, particularly since she takes blood 
pressure medication. Her mom's Canadian lawyer has had brief contact 
with Cole, who said she is fine. However, the family will need to 
find a new lawyer with jurisdiction in New York City.

Cole was not attempting to cross into the U.S. when she was arrested. 
Rather, on the advice of a lawyer, she went to the Queenston-Lewiston 
border to apply for a waiver to be allowed to travel later in the U.S.

She was restricted from travel because of a previous charge in 
Canada, which was pardoned, Charmaine said.

Hamilton police have no record of charges against Cole in Ontario in 
their electronic database going back more than 25 years.

On Cole's third scheduled visit to border security this past Monday, 
she was blindsided by the arrest, Charmaine said.

Charmaine described her mother as a kind, generous person known to 
many in her neighbourhood. She has always opened her doors to local 
children, and children Cole babysat through the years still come back 
to visit, she said.

Kevin Corsaro, chief customs and border protection officer, Buffalo 
division, said Cole was arrested and transferred into New York State 
Police custody, to be extradited to New York City where she will face 
the charges.

When reached yesterday afternoon, both the New York State Police and 
New York City Police said Cole was not in their custody. Police said 
Cole is believed to be in court custody.

Calls to the Queens District Attorney's office, where the warrant was 
issued, were not returned.
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