Gambling proceeds let county stop rolling dice with DPS labs

October 12, 2013

The shutdown of an illegal gambling operation has enabled the sheriff and county attorney to stop gambling on slow-as-molasses state-run drug labs.

County commissioners this week granted a request by Sheriff Roger Deeds and County Attorney Lori Kaspar to create a forensic drug testing account with $26,000 that was confiscated from the Brazos Bingo Hall. The fund will also be infused with proceeds from the sale of 61 illegal eight-liner gambling machines that were seized from the Brazos Bingo Hall Game Room.

The machines will be sold in states where they are legal.

Deeds and Kaspar told commissioners that the account will be used in DWI and other cases to get test results from privately run labs. Those labs have a much faster turnaround than labs operated by the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

DPS labs, Kaspar said, can take six months to provide test results, and they are unable to test for certain things, such as K2 or marijuana. K2, often called “fake weed,” can cause hallucinations, vomiting and agitation.

Kaspar told commissioners that many cases in Hood County have had to be dismissed because of the failings of state drug labs.

Deeds said that prosecutors are unable to put DPS chemists on the stand to testify in criminal cases. However, with privately operated labs, court testimony by experts is among the services offered.

Kaspar said that a private lab in Bedford will charge the county “$96 to $300, depending on what they’re testing for.”

“They guarantee a five-day turnaround, as opposed to six months,” she said.

Kaspar told commissioners that anyone found guilty of an offense would be required to reimburse the county for the cost of the testing.

“It would be part of their restitution,” she said.

Kaspar noted that the forensic drug testing account will be “at no cost to taxpayers.”

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