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Alleged drug smuggler headed to treatment center

| Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, 1:22 a.m.

A Rostraver Township woman accused of smuggling drugs over the U.S-Mexico border in Southern California will enter a drug treatment facility in San Diego County.

Samantha Kurdilla, 22, of 1043 Broad Ave., will enter the CRASH – Community Resources and Self Help – program Friday at the request of her attorney, William Winfield Brown, according to a court document.

CRASH contracts with San Diego County for both long-term and short-term treatment and recovery. Its website describes the short-term program as 60 to 90 days.

In addition to approving Brown's request, federal Magistrate Judge Barbara Lynn Major rescheduled Kurdilla's preliminary hearing for 9 a.m. Feb. 21, according to the document. Kurdilla's original preliminary hearing date was Feb. 5.

Kurdilla was arrested Jan. 15 at the port of entry in San Ysidro, Calif., for allegedly carrying 100 grams of drugs inside her vaginal cavity. She and travel companion James Perry III, 44, of Belle Vernon each face a federal charge of unlawful importation of a controlled substance.

Perry allegedly admitted he purchased the drugs in Mexico and convinced Kurdilla to conceal them inside her body.

Perry's preliminary hearing Thursday was continued, according to Debra Hartman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. Hartman said a new date has not been set.

Perry remained in the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego.

Authorities initially denied bail after the government labeled Perry a flight risk. Calls to Perry's court-appointed attorney, Gregory T. Murphy, were not returned.

When reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Brown accused The Valley Independent of trashing his client through a sensationalized account.

Brown, of Brown & Associates in San Diego, described Kurdilla's alleged incident as “a one on a scale of one to 10.” He asked why the media was not going after Perry, who he claimed made his client perform the alleged smuggling.

“This is a young lady who had serious issues. She's a (22)-year-old woman who has her entire life in front of her, and you're ruining her life,” he said. “Because of how you've trashed her, she can't ever go back to her hometown. Do you understand that? ... I know how the game is played. You're trying to sell papers. Don't you have anything better to write about?”

It could not be determined how long Kurdilla would participate in the CRASH program or whether charges could be reduced or dropped upon successful completion.

Brown indicated he might be willing to provide such information next week.

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at rbruni@tribweb.com or 724-684-2635.

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