Tainted cookie suspect worked for MADD

July 9, 2008 4:30:51 PM PDT
A teenager suspected of delivering drug-laced cookies to a dozen police stations was fulfilling court-ordered community service work for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the agency said Wednesday. Christian V. Phillips told the police stations he was representing MADD when he dropped of baskets of homemade treats over the past few weeks, and a few officers ate the cookies, although no illnesses were reported.

But on Tuesday, he was arrested at the Lake Worth department after officers -- who had received a call that MADD wasn't making any such deliveries -- accepted the basket, thought they smelled marijuana and did preliminary tests that instead found traces of LSD, said Lake Worth Police Chief Brett McGuire.

When he was taken into custody Tuesday, Phillips had a spreadsheet of about two dozen departments with 13 already checked off, McGuire said. While talking to detectives, the suspect denied trying to contaminate the goodies or harm anyone and said one of his friends might have been smoking pot while Phillips was baking, McGuire said.

Officers found some drug paraphernalia in his car and confiscated the vehicle, McGuire said.

Now, departments across North Texas -- most of them in small towns -- are deciding whether to press charges and re-examining their policies on accepting homebaked goodies from usually well-meaning citizens.

"We believe we were targeted first, but he's mad at a lot of agencies," said Watauga Police Chief Rande Benjamin, where Phillips was arrested last summer for hitting an officer. "Ninety-nine out of 100 times, when people bring things in, you don't have a problem. But I have told everyone to be more cautious."

Phillips, 18, was arraigned Wednesday in Lake Worth and remained jailed on a $75,000 bond on a charge of tampering with a consumer product, a second-degree felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Phillips was on probation for an assault last summer after officers responded to a loud party at a Watauga house, Benjamin said. Several teens fled, but Phillips tried to "karate chop" an officer's arm, Benjamin said.

The four Watauga officers who ate the cookies delivered to their office never got sick but have the option of being tested for drugs for "their peace of mind," Benjamin said.

In Fort Worth, seven people who were exposed to the cookies -- including two who just touched the basket and didn't eat them -- did not become ill but were treated at a hospital and were being tested for drugs, said Lt. Paul Henderson.

In a statement issued Wednesday, MADD's North Texas chapter said it was "profoundly disturbed" about the incident and was doing its own investigation.

Executive Director Mary Kardell did not return calls seeking comment about whether anyone from her agency had contacted any police station to say that no one was delivering cookies on its behalf.

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