Cops: "Heroin" Was Actually Detergent

Felony charge dropped, deputy canned

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Heroin Snafu

JANUARY 29--A man arrested on a felony heroin trafficking charge spent six weeks in jail before investigators determined that the narcotic he was alleged to have possessed was actually laundry detergent.

The fallout from last month’s botched bust of Matthew Crull, 29, has included the firing of the arresting officer and the dismissal of drug charges against 11 other individuals who were arrested by Steven O’Leary, the former Martin County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Seen in the above mug shot, Crull was arrested in early December after O’Leary responded to a call about a suspicious vehicle in a KFC parking lot in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Crull was sleeping in his blue Astro van with an open can of beer in the cup holder and a pipe containing a “green leafy substance” in “plain view,” according to an arrest affidavit. Upon awaking, Crull said, “I was tired, and only was drinking one beer on my way home from work.”

A search of the vehicle, O’Leary reported, also turned up a “bag wrapped with a cord which contained a white powder-like substance.” The bag was found in a driver’s side door compartment.

A field test of the substance tested positive for heroin, O’Leary noted. The deputy added that he conducted a second test at the county jail, which also “yielded a positive result” for heroin.

While acknowledging possession of an open container of alcohol and a pot pipe, Crull denied ownership of the three ounces of purported heroin. “It’s not mine. I don’t do hard drugs,” he said. Crull, who had recently purchased the vehicle, hypothesized that “maybe the man who sold him the van used it to run drugs.”

A story detailing Crull’s arrest in the local newspaper was headlined “Accused heroin trafficker jailed in Martin County.” Crull was locked up in the county jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond for the heroin count (and two $500 bonds for possession of pot and drug paraphernalia).

At the time of Crull’s arrest, he was free on bond and awaiting sentencing in a 2017 case in which he had pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and tampering with evidence. His bond in that matter was immediately revoked following his December 5 collar by O’Leary.

After investigators determined that Crull was in possession of laundry detergent, they dropped the trafficking charge, an aggravated felony carrying a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. Prosecutors also subsequently declined to pursue the lesser drug counts.

Crull’s rap sheet includes convictions for marijuana possession; drunk driving; disorderly conduct; burglary; violating probation; and careless driving. Before last month, he had never been accused of trafficking narcotics. (3 pages)