VALPARAISO — Prosecutors have agreed to greatly reduce the jail bonds of four people who claim the 10 pounds of “white flaky substance” found in their vehicle last month is soy wax and not methamphetamine.
Officials have further agreed to a request by defense attorney Bob Harper to speed up the lab testing on the substance, which resulted in each defendant facing high-level felony charges. The developments came about during a Monday morning hearing for one of the defendants — Jessica Jones, of Fort Wayne. Harper had requested the hearing to argue for reducing Jones’ $15,000 cash bond, but announced at the outset that prosecutors had agreed to reset the bond for Jones and the three others at $2,000 cash. The agreement was accepted by Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa.
In arguing that the substance is not methamphetamine, Harper said it would have a street value of a half-million dollars or more if it were the drug. “The defendant tried to explain to the officer that the material was bought for approximately $20 from Amazon and in fact contained a soy wax which was used for making candles,” according to the motion prepared by Harper on behalf of Jones. The preliminary test done on the substance is the reason for the two high-level felony charges, the motion says. If those charges did not exist, Jones argued, she would face just the lesser count involving the needles and would have a lower bond. Porter County Prosecutor Brian Gensel said last week in a written statement, “The seized material field tested positive for methamphetamine using Raman Spectroscopy. It is at ISP (Indiana State Police) labs for confirmation.”
“Also found in the vehicle were items of paraphernalia including a large number of new and used needles/syringes,” he said. Harper asked the court Monday for a sample of the substance to have tested or to order state police to rush its tests. State police testing can take months, he said. Deputy Prosecutor Tammy Gregg said the testing will be expedited. Jones was among four people arrested following a traffic stop Sept. 14 in the parking lot of AJ’s Pizza Co. just east of Ind. 49 near the access point to the Indiana Toll Road in Chesterton, according to the charging documents.
Police said they found a scale and hypodermic needles in the vehicle, a plastic bag containing a white substance and a metal bucket containing a plastic bag with 10 pounds of a “white flaky substance” that police said “appeared to field test positive for methamphetamine.” Jones was charged with two high-level felony counts of dealing in methamphetamine — one carrying a potential sentence of 10 to 30 years behind bars and the other carrying a potential of three to 16 years, according to court documents. She is also charged with a lower-level felony count of possession or control of a hypodermic needle.
A trial is scheduled for Jones on Feb. 19, with preliminary hearings Dec. 8 and Jan. 12.