Man caught with pot at Lemon Creek

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2008

A Juneau man serving a 30-day jail sentence for "criminal mischief" was caught hiding a balloon of marijuana in a cup of feces under his prison bed, according to authorities.

A grand jury indicted Paul Rodriguez, 28, on May 16 on a single charge of smuggling a small amount marijuana into a correctional facility.

Rodriguez checked into the Lemon Creek Correctional Center on March 5 to serve a short sentence for slashing tires on the cars of his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend and violating a protective order issued by a Juneau magistrate.

Three days later, prison guards caught Rodriguez "digging through a toilet that he shouldn't have access to," according to Lemon Creek Corrections Officer Caitlin McCallister's testimony.

McCallister said Rodrigues' cell was searched and he was placed into a "dry cell" for observation. A dry cell is a holding cell where nothing can be flushed, Department of Corrections spokesman Richard Schmitz said.

With the toilet taped up, guards noticed Rodriguez with his hands in his pants "trying to fish something out, McCallister said. Eventually Rodriguez told guards he needed to use the bathroom and the dry cell was searched.

Guards found a cup of "feces" that contained a "small balloon" of something troopers suspected to be marijuana, according to court documents.

Rodriguez has a 10-year history of convictions for petty theft, DUI and drug possession and has yet to be arraigned on the new felony charge that could net a two-year sentence.

Rodriguez later denied knowing about the cup of feces or the balloon, Alaska State Trooper Jeff Landvatter said. The marijuana amounted to about a "thimble full," Landvatter said.

All who enter Lemon Creek undergo a search at some point during intake and processing and body cavity searches are done on some inmates, Schmitz said. Drugs are found on incoming convicts once or twice a week, he said.

Records show State Crime Lab results confirmed that Rodriguez's balloon contained marijuana.

• Contact reporter Greg Skinner at 523-2258 or greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.



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