An Oklahoma man spent two months in jail when he was believed to be in possession of cocaine during a stop by the police. He eventually received a 15 years sentence, but this has since been dropped when a lab test revealed that his “cocaine” was actually powdered milk.
According to USA Today, Cody Gregg, 29, was arrested on August 12 after a cop tried to flag him down for not having rear lights on his bike. Following a brief chase, the police officer caught up with Gregg and searched his backpack to find a coffee can with a clear baggie inside. It contained “a large amount of white powder substance,” according to an affidavit.
The substance initially tested positive for cocaine and Gregg faced drug trafficking charges and was sent to jail on a $50,000 bond, according to the Oklahoma City Police Department. Gregg pleaded not guilty to the drug trafficking charges. However, after spending two months in jail, Gregg pleaded guilty in October to the lesser charge of cocaine possession with the intent to distribute. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Just a few days later, Gregg returned to court to withdraw his plea after a lab test concluded that the powder substance he was caught with was actually powdered milk. Gregg says he found the substance in a food pantry and he only entered the guilty plea because he wanted to get out of the Oklahoma County Jail, a place known for its poor conditions, overcrowding and usually high suicide rates. According to The Oklahoman, the jail has experienced issues for decades and over the past five years, an inmate has died in jail custody roughly every six weeks on average.
The Oklahoma County Jail said they eventually released Gregg on Friday, October 11.
Gregg has faced legal troubles before including possession of marijuana, meth and drug paraphernalia. However, in one instance, his detention costs were waived because of mental illness.
According to the Oklahoman, commissioners are trying to come up with remedies to the Oklahoma County Jail problems. Some options include building a smaller satellite facility to ease overcrowding or to build a facility for minimum and medium-security inmates. Kevin Calvey, commissioner for District 3, said any new building would need to include facilities for mental health and substance abuse treatment.
Many experts have also criticized the field testing used to assist officers in identifying substances, also known as presumptive testing. According to a report from May 2018 by the National Institute of Justice’s Forensic Technology Center of Excellence, presumptive testing is only used to determine the possibility that a substance may be present. Thus, the test could result in false positives and false negatives.