STUART, Fla. (CBS12) — “I had 92 grams of laundry detergent in my door and that’s what I was falsely charged for trafficking of heroin,” said Matthew Crull of Jensen Beach.
Crull is one of eleven people released from county jail after Martin County Sheriff William Snyder fired Steven O’Leary.
Former deputy O’Leary was terminated for falsifying narcotics arrests.
The 28-year-old said he spent 41 days behind bars. He is now back home with his girlfriend and dogs, but is devastated because he said he missed out on big events, like Christmas last month.
“It just wasn’t a fun day,” he said with tears in his eyes.
On December 5, 2018, deputies were dispatched to a KCF parking lot, along NW Federal Highway in Jensen Beach about a suspicious van.
Before they arrived, paramedics found Crull asleep in his car.
According to the arrest report, O’Leary said he discovered a white, powder-like substance inside his van. He claims after conducting a field test, the powder came back positive for heroin.
But Crull said it was Tide powder laundry detergent.
“He showed me a picture of the field test kit that he supposedly conducted, on his phone. He never actually showed me the real test kit,” Crull said.
A judge charged Crull with trafficking heroin days before the sheriff’s office fired O’Leary.
“It made the situation very real. He raised my bond to $100k to half a million dollars, so there was really no way I was getting out of jail,” he said.
In fact, the sheriff’s office ran the tests afterwards, revealing the substances used in some O’Leary’s arrests turned out not to be drugs.
The other ten people released from jail are Maxwell Tatum, Nicole McCrory, Michael Lauderdale, Jr., Melissa Morales, Jabari Schweitzer, Yener Lopez, Yordany Rodriguez-Gomez, Marialys Perez, Jason Farrenkope and Ashley Michalski.
According to their arrests reports, some, including Crull, had other drugs on them during their arrests, but those misdemeanor charges were eventually dismissed because Sheriff Snyder said it couldn’t find anything credible with what O’Leary stated.
“Police corruption is something you always hear about or you see in the movies,” he said. “You don’t think it’s actually going to happen.”
Cull is now hoping to move forward with his life.
“Go back to work, and just kind of pick things up where I left off. Put it all behind me,” he said.
Additional cases are pending and could be impacted.
Right now, there are about 120 drug samples that are being tested in a regional lab.
As of Monday night, O’Leary has not been charged.