ShareThis Page
News

Man on probation intended to swap urine, officer says

| Tuesday, April 24, 2012, 9:31 p.m.

A Jeannette man surrendered urine in a pill bottle when authorities searched all offenders entering a day reporting center in Greensburg on Dec. 5, a Westmoreland County probation officer testified Thursday.

The urine handed over by 22-year-old Rashaad Ricardo Shepard of 317 1/2 Division St. later tested positive for suboxone, a drug used to treat opiate dependence, officer Luci Taylor said.

"He did hand me a pill bottle, which I noticed had liquid in it," Taylor said. "He said it was urine."

Greensburg District Judge James Albert held Shepard for trial on charges of use or attempt to provide drug-free urine, attempt to obstruct administration of law and obstruction of administration of law.

County detectives charged Shepard and other clients of the probation center on South Maple Avenue with bringing in urine to submit for drug tests.

Shepard's attorney, Eric Dee, sought to have the charges dismissed, saying the law required the urine to be drug-free.

Assistant District Attorney Chris Flanigan argued that it was Shepard's intent that mattered. "He believed it was drug-free. That was the only reason for him to bring it to the day reporting center," she said.

Albert said he had enough evidence to hold the case for court, but there might be issues at trial.

"Will it hold up beyond a reasonable doubt• I don't know. That's another story," he said.

Authorities investigated the center after a Derry Township woman who was a client overdosed on heroin in November.

Michael Chester Rush, 31, of 113 Ridge Ave., Unity, another client, obtained that heroin in Jeannette after he and the woman left the center, detectives allege.

Rush is awaiting trial for delivery and possession of heroin. The woman is recovering, authorities said.

The center offers probation services, counseling, treatment and job training.

In December, judges placed a moratorium on sentencing defendants to the center after the investigations landed dozens of program participants in jail for drug violations.

The judges lifted the ban last month for new clients after probation officials offered recommendations to improve oversight and security. The number of clients has been limited to 100.

Andrew James Greene, 29, of 50 Brattleboro Drive, Greensburg, faces a preliminary hearing related to the investigation and Glenn Matthew Speece, 30, of Hempfield, and Brian Erick Ross, 29, of North Huntingdon, are awaiting trial.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me