Man driving car with plates registered to wanted man gets arrested for drugs

HURRICANE – Many would argue having drugs in your possession is simply not smart, but transporting drugs in a vehicle recently purchased from a man with an outstanding warrant will certainly increase your chances of getting into trouble, as one man found out Sunday when he was arrested after police discovered an array of drugs in his possession during a traffic stop.

While on patrol, an officer ran a registration check on the vehicle traveling in front of him near 100 West and 50 South in Hurricane, which returned showing an active warrant for the male vehicle owner, according to a probable cause statement written by Hurricane City Police Officer Justin Gray in support of the arrest.

Michael John White, of Hurricane, Utah, booking photo posted June7, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News
Michael John White, of Hurricane, Utah, booking photo posted June 7, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Believing the man driving the vehicle was likely the man with the warrant, the officer initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle, the statement said.

When the officer spoke with the driver, later identified as 53-year-old Michael John White, he told Gray he was not the wanted man and that he had just bought the car a couple of weeks prior.

“While speaking with the male further,” Gray wrote in the statement, “he appeared to be nervous, as his hands were visibly shaking and he fumbled through his wallet attempting to find his identification, after passing it over a couple of times as he looked.”

Gray determined the license plates on the vehicle belonged to the previous owner. White said he was waiting to get paid so he could put the car in his name, the statement said, and that he was unaware it was against the law to operate a vehicle on previous owner’s plates.

While running a records check on White, Gray observed White moving around a lot in the car “as if he were trying to hide something,” the statement said. While watching White, Gray was advised White’s driver’s license was suspended.

“Due to (White’s) nervous behavior and his suspicious movements I had observed,” Gray wrote, “I believed he was hiding something in the vehicle.”

When officers asked White if he had anything illegal in the vehicle, he told them no, according to the statement, and then consented to a search.

During a search of the vehicle several drugs and related paraphernalia were found in different areas inside the car, the statement said, including multiple bags of methamphetamine, a scale with a white residue on top, several small individual baggies, a glass pipe with a white residue in its bowl, two small vials containing methamphetamine and cocaine, hydrocodone and methadone pills, a marijuana pipe and marijuana.

Gray wrote in the statement of probable cause:

White admitted he knew the items were in the bag, but he didn’t know how much was in there. (White) admitted one of the meth pipes located was his, along with the marijuana and the methadone. He stated he had traded a guy some of his meth for the methadone, for his hurt back. (White) admitted the items in the individual baggies and the scale were used to dispense the meth, but he stated he was going to use everything we had located.

White was arrested and booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility. He was charged with a second-degree felony for drug distribution, three third-degree felonies for drug possession, two class B misdemeanors for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia and a class C misdemeanor for driving on a suspended license.

Fifth District Judge Eric Ludlow ordered $25,000 bail for White’s release, pending trial.

White was found indigent by the court during his initial court appearance Monday and will be represented by court-appointed attorney Michael Lastowski. He is scheduled to make his next court appearance on June 15.

Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

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