Two Sidney Police Department officers recently questioned a man alleged to be trespassing at a local hotel parking lot and charged him with criminal possession of dangerous drugs.
Darren Joseph Brown was arrested last month, after Sidney Police officers discovered what was believed to be a pipe used for methamphetamine and contraband in a Crown Royal whisky bag inside the vehicle where he was found.
Brown made his initial court appearance on March 2, 2020, in the Richland County 7th Judicial District Court, presided over by District Court Judge Katherine M. Bidegaray.
If found guilty of charges of possessing methamphetamine, Brown could face a state prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $5,000.
The case began on Feb. 12, 2020, at 2:15 p.m., according to an Information affidavit filed by Charity McLarty, a Richland County deputy attorney.
Two Sidney Police Department officers responded to a report of a male purportedly trespassing at a Sidney hotel.
When they arrived, the officers found the suspect inside a vehicle on the hotel parking lot. Brown was in the rear, according to the police officer who first approached the vehicle.
“The vehicle was identified with Montana license plate 769015B,” according to an affidavit filed by Sidney Police. Later, Brown denied being the owner of the vehicle.
Brown reportedly informed the officer he had recently lost his job and his house. The officer stated he recognized the vehicle, having seen it parked in that location over the previous two weeks.
Initially, the police officer who first approached the vehicle told the suspect he was not welcome to park on the hotel property and that “he was going to have to be moving on,” according to the court Information statement.
The Sidney Police officer then “observed that there was a large butane torch lighter” inside the vehicle, the affidavit stated.
“The entire vehicle was a disaster except for one area which the torch lighter was in,” the court document continued. “Directly behind the torch lighter was a Crown Royal bag.
Both the torch lighter and Crown Royal bag are significant because in multiple narcotics related investigations [the officer] has seen those same items together and usually the Crown Royal bag contained narcotics or paraphernalia.”
After requesting and examining the suspect’s photo ID, the officer determined it appeared as though the suspect had lost considerable weight since the photo was taken.
The officer then asked the suspect to accompany him to his patrol car, the affidavit stated.
“Darren went to exit the vehicle and inadvertently touched the Crown Royal bag as if he was going to grab it and then realized what he was doing and left it there, grabbing a hat that was nearby,” the court affidavit stated, noting the suspect informed one of the officers he was on probation but had not been in trouble for “anything else.”
The officer who originally approached the suspect told Brown he was going to issue a warning citation and invited him to sit in the back of his patrol car “to stay warm.”
The officer ran a check on Brown’s record with the Sidney Police Department and reportedly discovered the suspect was “involved in a drug related case and also that he was a sexual offender, which indicated to [the officer] that he had lied about his criminal history,” the court Information document stated.
After determining the suspect was not being forthright, the police officer who filed the affidavit stated he believed “Darren was currently committing a narcotics violation, specifically that he was in possession of contraband inside his vehicle.
However, the officer told the suspect “he was going to just be getting a warning for the trespass and then he would be on his way.”
After asking Brown if he would consent to allowing the police to search the vehicle, the suspect reportedly told the officer the vehicle did not belong to him. The officer informed the suspect he could still consent to allowing the vehicle to be searched; however, Brown reportedly did not respond immediately.
The police officer told the suspect he did not believe there was a “large amount of product” but reminded him he was not allowed to have any illegal drugs because of his probation.
Brown purportedly told the police officer there was a light bulb in the vehicle but it did not belong to him.
According to the court document filed by the Richland County deputy attorney, the officer was aware that “light bulbs are commonly used for methamphetamine consumption.”
Asked where the light bulb could be found, Brown reportedly told the police officer it was inside the Crown Royal bag. Brown allegedly stated once again the vehicle did not belong to him and that the light bulb “pipe” did not belong to him.
After consenting to allow police officers to search the vehicle, it was discovered the Crown Royal bag contained drug contraband and a “light bulb meth pipe.”
The bag, contraband and light bulb were seized and Brown was arrested. The evidence was later processed and photographed, according to the affidavit.
“Inside the Crown Royal bag was a gray zippered bag that contained a light bulb methamphetamine pipe, a snort straw, a plastic scoop, two cotton swabs, a small ‘dope’ bag” and other items, all of which reportedly contained meth residue and “tested presumptive positive for methamphetamine.”
Brown is scheduled to appear in the Richland County 7th Judicial District Court for an Omnibus hearing on April 6. A trial is set for Aug. 10, 2020.