News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

September 3, 2009

Wabash Valley woman didn’t realize second cold medicine purchase violated drug laws

(Continued)

CLINTON —

Vencel has worked with area police to help curb the sale of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine to people buying it as a meth ingredient, and he offered insight into some of the purchasers.

As authorities and retailers have limited the sale of PSE, some meth-makers have resorted to asking their relatives and friends, who are unaware of the intended use of the product, to go buy the cold medicine. That has put some innocent people unwittingly into the cycle of meth production. And a buyer may call five or six different people to go buy the cold medicine, thereby circumventing the law.

Harpold, who is employed at the Rockville Correctional Facility for women, feels her reputation has been damaged by the arrest, and that she has been wrongly labeled as someone who makes meth.

Her police mug shot ran on the front page of her local newspaper, she wrote, in a letter to the Tribune-Star, “with an article entitled, ‘17 Arrested in Drug Sweep.’”

“That is something I have never been involved in,” she said of meth.

When she told her co-workers about the arrest, she said, they could not believe it. They have been supportive of her, she said, and other friends in the community have tried to help stop the misinformation that has spread because of the arrest.

The morning she was arrested, Harpold and her husband were awakened by police officers banging on the front door of their home at Midway along U.S. 36. She was allowed to get dressed, and was then taken in handcuffs to the Clinton Police Department, where she was questioned about her cold medicine purchases. She was later booked into jail, and her husband had to pay $300 bail to get her released.

Harpold said she did go talk to the prosecutor about the situation, and Alexander offered her the deferral program, in which Harpold is required to pay the court costs, abide by all laws and not be arrested for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, the class-C misdemeanor will be erased from her record.

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