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Man Sues Cops Who Held Him, Family for a Month Over Soap They Alleged Was Cocaine

  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    Can you tell the difference between hand soap and cocaine? Congratulations, you are already more qualified than Pennsylvania state police and their field test manufacturer, Safariland, LLC. Unfortunately for Alexander Bernstein, police had the power to hold him for 29 days, keeping him from his family and toddler during Thanksgiving. Now Bernstein is suing for the the blunder, seeking $150,000 in damages.

    The Allentown Morning Call reports on Nov. 16 that Bernstein believes police not only knew the soap wasn’t cocaine, but that the tests they used were known to be unreliable. He says that the ordeal not only cost him a valuable month of his life behind bars, but also thousands of dollars in legal fees.

    Bernstein was traveling to visit his sister in Florida and had some homemade soap in the car he was bringing to her as a gift. The soap was in some plastic packages held together with red tape in the trunk. When police stopped the vehicle for speeding they claimed to smell marijuana and requested to search the vehicle. Having nothing to hide, Bernstein and his travelling companion, Annadel Cruz, consented to the search.

    Police then applied a field test to the packages and claimed they came back positive. However, Bernstein states that troopers could later be heard discussing that the field test came back negative, with one saying to “make it positive.”

    "All the laboratory tests performed on the substance which the operator claimed, from the beginning, constituted nothing more than soap, confirmed that the package contained no cocaine, and no other drugs or controlled substances, but merely soap," the suit states.

    Bernstein had initially been held on a $500,000 bond before it was gradually reduced, eventually getting down to a level he could afford, nearly $33,000. The charges were eventually dropped, because transporting soap is not a crime in Pennsylvania, no matter how hard the troopers there attempt to manipulate the evidence.

    By Bob Knudsen - Examiner/Nov. 17, 2015
    Photo: You Tube
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Bango Skank
    This would be funny if it hadn't fucked up this guy's life. I hope he gets the full amount, he deserves it.

    What surprises me the most is the stupidity of the cops. If they're gonna be dishonest and corrupt, why didn't they just send some real cocaine along to the lab?
  2. Beenthere2Hippie
    I hope the jury awards him MORE than he is asking for and sets precedent for such levels of stupidity by professionals, as police and prosecutors claim to be. That would really make me smile.
  3. prescriptionperil
    Crooked cops. Give this guy his day in court. They'll settle out of court, as the publicity would be deserving. It would be funny if not for the fraud and it's victim.

  4. Nosferatus
    I'll stand by my usual answer that every case is different, and it's not fair to tar all cops with the same brush, BUT this particular agency has had some high profile fuckups recently, it would be in their best interest to look into their day to day operations and hiring standards, cops who work for an agency that has, rightly or wrongly, attained particular notoriety ought to have the good sense to make extra sure that their conduct is above board, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because doing so will make their life infinitely easier. All that being said, there are at least two sides to every story, and time will tell who lies on each side of this one. The way the soap is described as being packaged, it could have conceivably been mistaken for illegal drugs, administering a test would not have been at all out of line, however, if the police knowingly lied about the outcome of said test, that is bald faced misconduct, as I've said earlier, I'm sure that any related wrongdoing will be uncovered and appropriately rectified.

    According to the Huffington Post, Bernstein's companion, who was driving when the pair were pulled over for speeding and the trooper claimed to smell marijuana, admitted to having smoked some and to having a small amount in her bra, this likely increased the troopers' suspicion, evidently to the point that amateurly wrapped soap looked much worse than it was, it's not necessarily right, but it makes sense.

  5. ianzombie
    This is insane. The soap should have been re-tested and there should have been no reason for this man to spend a minute behind bars. What sort of idiots are policing there?
    There must be more to this that what has been released, maybe a personal vendetta? Who the fuck locks someone up for 29 days over soap? What a backward force.
  6. Nosferatus
    ^^You're probably right, there likely is more to the story. Although some states are ridiculous about drug charges, maybe it has something to do with the small amount of marijuana that was found.
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