University of Miami Student Fakes Cocaine in Dorm Room . . . University Has Student Arrested

200px-UMiamiSeal.svg170px-Man_sniffingJonathan Harrington, 21, thought he had a great joke when he heard that the University regularly inspected dorm rooms for drugs. Harrington took powdered sugar in lines to look like cocaine on his desk with a rolled up dollar bill and seven aspiring pills. The university police proceeded to do a field test and declared it to be real cocaine — leading to Harrington being charged with felony drug possession.

The case highlights the notoriously unreliable field tests. But the result is that the English major is facing five year in prison as well as expulsion. It will reportedly take weeks for the drugs to be tested and confirmed to be sugar.

Students have long objected to the lack of privacy in these drug sweeps and many no doubt applauded Harrington’s humorous mockery of the inspections. Here the housing officials called in the University of Miami police who admit that they saw that the tablets were marked aspirin but, with Harrington there telling them it was a joke, the field test said that he had left a huge amount of cocaine on his desk. He was handcuffed and taken away to jail.

Harrington will face arraignment next week on one felony count of cocaine possession.

54 thoughts on “University of Miami Student Fakes Cocaine in Dorm Room . . . University Has Student Arrested”

  1. Sorry. . .on my phone. . .

    . . .rambling and incoherent rants of purported law school students. I’m a big proponent of mandatory psych evaluations as a prerequisite for admission. Many would fail.

  2. Paul C–or, perhaps, should I address you hereafter as “the oppressor”. . .?

    It’s painful to observe just how much the standards for admission to law schools have tanked by observing the often rambling and incohetent

  3. Mr. Schulte

    “Have you had problems with the police before? You talk like it.”

    Uh, well I don’t like when young people (I’m 23) are blown away with zero accountability (I see you trying to eat some sins Dick Cheney, I mean Eric Holder, I mean Darren Smith). I don’t like that we have more prisoners than China, yet claim a banner of freedom for our people. I don’t like militarism. The only way to get prisoners is to get people who are willing to serve those in power and exploit vulnerable populations. It’s a systemic issue.

    Me, personally, issues with police? I actually had dinner last week with the head security guard at my law school, a former assistant police chief. In Ferguson, I marched with a former Chief of Police. I have a great friend that has been a police officer in Meridian, Mississippi for over a decade. The only people I think should be excluded are people that misrepresent their actual views (often done here with how a story is framed or the political terms used); otherwise, the principle is inclusion and engagement. Other than the garden-variety speeding tickets, you are fishing for something that is not there, again Mr. Schulte (you must have a quite boring life).

    Ad hominem is what you just attempted Mr. Schulte, so you never have any credibility to allege that as a poster.

    I have been arrested for civil disobedience because I’m not a willing killer like nearly everyone on here. Even then, I’ve engaged in congenial conversation with the oppressors – I’m also not a barbarian like you appear to be in your post.

    1. chipkelly – police find people who give them a hard time usually have had trouble with the police before. That is a statement of fact, no ad hominem.

      BTW, you threw another ad hominem in there.

  4. Bam Bam you wrote:” Let’s just focus on one thing, briefly, and ask whether, as a society, we want to encourage our citizens to stage faux crimes, just for giggles?”

    So Bam Bam forgive me but I am going to vent my frustration. I would suggest respectfully that your thought process is on the wrong track here. Here is why:

    In this case the “faux crime” is the one the police were there to enforce, but they are not there just for giggles. They are there being used by our society as tools of (mostly unintended) repression.

    I would say we do indeed want to encourage more of this 🙂 Too bad the students didn’t organize this and give everyone powdered sugar for their room “invasions”.

    In Nazi Germany it was a crime to be alcoholic and you were put on a train along with the Jews and Gypsies; unless you were part of the “top tier”. Hitler was addicted to Meth, and it was given to the troops. The people went along with these “train rides” up to and until they had to get on board themselves. Why? Because at the time it all seemed like a good idea.

    Lest you think this an extreme example; the difference here is the degree of punishment. Also, here it’s acceptable to use alcohol, even to the point of dependence. It is not acceptable to use drugs or plants that are not approved by big pharma. Also you may not use the approved drugs in a way that you have not been ordered to. You also may not give you pills away or sell them. No big deal sounds reasonable right? Unless you consider the root issues: repression and unequal representation under the law.

    Bam Bam ask yourself if you would consent to have the police over to your place to inspect on a routine and random visit. Would you blame your child for making a “joke” with your sugar during one of these “for your safety” inspections? Would it be a minor “set aside issue” if the police came up with a false positive with you knowing and them being told that it was powdered sugar.

    What makes it fine for students to be inspected and not you or me? What is wrong with a federal mandate to test at the grade school level or high school level?

    As far as the false positive: Most likely police corruption, but if not then incompetence. They wear gloves and there are a lot of hungry lawyers out there. The test would not have been false positive if it were a member of congress or their child.

  5. A point missed here is the two tier justice system we have in this country. For those that have and those that have not. I don’t know but am willing to bet that most or all Ivy League schools don’t have cops randomly but systematically violating the studens 4th. The Donald Trumps and Ted Kennedy’s in America need not worry about such intrusions nor do their children.

  6. As a kid, I used to work the circus when it was in town.

    There was one rule that was reiterated —-“Don’t poke the Tiger!” (Lions were inferred as well.)

    This dude is getting a real life education to supplement days spent indoors and online with games of no consequence. BTW…I was more anxious about the elephants.

    Don’t feel sorry for him…I’ll bet he’ll be very successful if he uses the experience to learn ….if not….survival of the fittest.

  7. bam bam:

    You’re right that this was poor judgement, obviously, on the part of the college student to waste the time of school officials and the police. If he is innocent, I hope he plans his pranks more wisely in the future.

    People in college do dumb things sometimes while they’re growing up.

    1. Karen – even though they arrested him, they will have to retest the substance for coke. This is when the case should fall apart.

  8. Darren:

    Great post. I wonder if the false positives for the assay are due to operator error, cross contamination, or some other cause that training can reduce. If the manufacturer did produce a batch of faulty field assays, then they would indeed be liable for all the mayhem that ensued. Or perhaps the dollar bill was actually contaminated with cocaine. I’ve heard that currency can test positive for traces of drugs, but never knew if that was an urban legend.

    Has anyone investigated the manufacturer of these faulty kits that were cited in the other posts? I hate when news stories remark that the field tests had false positives, but they never follow up and say why.

    A false negative is easier to get than a false positive in most assays. Your sample could stick to the tube, be below the sensitivity threshold, denatured, or the reagents could be expired. A false positive would require an assay to react to something that isn’t there, or a failure in specificity. The most common reason is cross contamination. Considering cops come into contact with illegal substances as a matter of course, it’s possible that there may be a gap in training in how to prevent cross contamination. The outer surface of the test kits could be contaminated from other crime scenes, or even their box of gloves could be contaminated. Assays in general are designed to be sensitive, which can work against you when you’re working in the field and not on a clean lab bench with good lighting and no wind. Whenever we had a positive result in a lab, we were required to test it again. I can’t ever recall getting a false positive, but I know it happens, albeit rarely.

    Whenever I hear about false positives, whether in a lab or the police, I don’t automatically think foul play. I think training, cross contamination, or test kits that need to be recalled.

    1. Karen, thank you.

      I don’t believe they tested the dollar bill because I don’t think there would be enough residue for the test kit to be usable. It would be enough to simply test the lines that were on the table.

      I preferred the NIK brand test kits to the others, especially the tube ones. The tubes were a bit tricky to get the substance into whereas the NIK kits were pouches and the most you had to do was to tap the pouch to get the substance past the ampules to the bottom for the test. If they used the NIK brand for cocaine there is only one pouch needed for confirmation. The kit for cocaine is Test G in the NIK system and, in fact, there are three steps in the testing process. (This means there are three ampules that when broken all must display a particular color change at the bottom of the pouch in reaction to the substance in order to indicate a presumptive positive result.) I don’t know which maker this department uses, however.

      For cross contamination purposes the only way I can think of this happening, at least theoretically, is if the officers used a stick to put the substance into the test device after having used it for the same test at another incident. This is very improbable in my view. I guess a glove could also be the same if they picked it up with the glove but I cannot imagine this being used because you don’t want the substance on you afterward (or on your steering wheel)

    2. Karen – think of false positives as being part of the testing procedure. If you are going to have a urine exam for a new job, give them two samples. They can store the second sample for retesting.

  9. Paul C

    Not all pranks are equal. That’s obvious. Today, that same prank, where a partially nude young man, wrapped in Christmas light and appearing at someone’s door, could get him a classification as a sex offender on his record. Yes, Paul, the times, they are a changin’.

  10. Paul C

    I have no idea as to whether or not the substance was, in fact, merely powdered sugar–as suggested by the student–or whether it was cocaine. My point was to view this situation in a slightly different manner–one which didn’t seem to be discussed previously in this particular thread. I have little to no sympathy for anyone who takes the precious time and resources of law enforcement by staging a fake crime. I just don’t. He may fancy himself the next Ashton Kutcher, where his alleged powdered sugar set up was meant to punk authorities, but the police do not exist for his enjoyment and entertainment. In my opinion, this is an abuse. Yes, an abuse. The same people, who squawk the loudest about the police abusing their powers, are strangely the same ones totally silent about someone abusing the time, resources and energy of those same police.

    1. bam bam – college students are prone to doing stupid things. I had a friend (2 years ahead of me) who, at Xmas time, stripped naked, wrapped himself in Xmas lights and 200 feet of extension cord, knocked on the door of the dorm proctor and when he came to the door, sang Xmas carols to him. To get the full effect, you have to imagine him built like Santa Claus, but about 20 years old.

  11. Okay, at the risk of acquiring the wrath and ire of those who feel sorry for this poor university boy scout, perhaps a little perspective is in order. Let’s just take the faulty–or not-so-faulty– drug test off the table, so to speak. Let’s just remove it, for the moment. Okay? It’s not the only issue here. Let’s just focus on one thing, briefly, and ask whether, as a society, we want to encourage our citizens to stage faux crimes, just for giggles? Of course, you know, those hilarious people who have declared that they were the victims of fake or sham kidnappings, where countless law enforcement hours and dollars were monopolized, only to find that no danger ever existed? Do we, as a society, want to encourage our citizens to toy with law enforcement, by making a joke of the legal system and usurping time and energy which would have been better spent on more important, actual crimes? I find this “joke” no more cute than those staged by other mentally challenged individuals, who get their kicks having the police respond to a pretend crime. Perhaps I’m the only one who views this little stunt as more than simple child’s play? Perhaps I’m the only one who wishes that law enforcement expend it’s time and energy on actual crimes, where anyone or anything which diminishes that capacity is held accountable in some respect by staging fake crimes?

    1. bam bam – do you think that in this case the police (called by the university) is expending it’s time on a real crime?

  12. People on here will brag about the fourth amendment, yet in practice y’all usually just look the other way as long as it isn’t your client, family/friend, or your money involved.

    The fourth amendment has little effect anymore…. For most of us it never really has, the elite could send whoever to rob us of our privacy (seems to be many people like D. Smith out there willing to “serve”).

    We have secret courts to handle some infringements on the fourth amendment “rights”. And y’all, with a straight face, claim that liberty is of the utmost importance in this country.

    Liberty for who???

  13. if students get this treatment, I say that Faculty’s right to privacy should be equally infringed. Faculty makes bank as students (many at least) go into great debt, whilst having less rights. Lets see what’s in this student’s professor’s living room and publicize it.

    We need a Student Revolution….

    And for the moral JT on here: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/9/29/yemen-death-toll-surpasses-2300.html

    I think I recall what Dante said about silence in certain times….

    always silence on here unless a personal gain is at stake.

  14. hahaha this place appears to HATE liberty.

    Leave the student alone, he is probably much more productive than the “serious” people on here.

    And note to self: Don’t let D. smith near you, any person, or effects… Demonstrates no respect for the right to privacy.

    My Aspirin, D. Smith!!! Leave us alone!! You and the state should go save us from those “terrorists”!

    1. chipkelly – the problem is with the test kits. For example, we know that if you have a poppy bagel before a urine test you are more likely to get a false positive for opiates. Sniffer dogs are not always reliable. Witnesses are rarely reliable..

      Have you had problems with the police before? You talk like it.

  15. Frank, Always good to see you. I remember the cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s. I had heard the tales of cocaine traces on currency but always wondered if it was urban legend. Thanks for showing me it wasn’t.

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