An Oklahoma man was sentenced to 15 years in prison last week, after finally switching his not guilty plea to guilty following two months behind bars for cocaine possession. Two days after the sentence was handed down, the man withdrew his lately plea, after lab results determined the "cocaine" he was arrested for allegedly trafficking was actually a bag of powdered milk.
What are the details?
Cody Gregg, 29, was flagged down by police in Oklahoma City on the night of Aug. 12, because the bicycle he was riding did not have any rear lights. Officers searched his backpack, and found a coffee can containing a large clear baggy full of a white powder.
Gregg was arrested and charged with felony drug trafficking. The arresting officer wrote in his affidavit, obtained by The Oklahoman, that 'the white powder in the baggy later tested positive for cocaine and was a total package weight of 45.91 grams of cocaine."
Gregg was detained in the Oklahoma County Jail and pleaded not guilty in court the following week. After just under two months in the slammer, in October he changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Then, on Thursday, Gregg asked to withdraw his guilty plea after a lab test — not a law enforcement field test — came back showing that the substance in the baggy he was caught with was full of powdered milk, not cocaine.
The judge obliged. Gregg, who is homeless, explained to the judge that he had received the milk from a food pantry, and pleaded guilty in order to get out of the jail he was in. On Friday, the case against Gregg was dismissed and he was released.
According to The Washington Post, a Tulsa public defender stated on social media that the Oklahoma County Jail is "widely considered one of the worst in the country," and that "any innocent person would consider pleading guilty just to get out."
The Post further noted that "despite growing awareness that (field) tests have a high error rate — some studies have found that they result in false positives a fifth or even a third of the time — many police departments continue to rely on them."