Commissioner's Second Drug Test Sample Lost

Commissioner's Second Drug Test Sample Lost
Posted by FoM on January 13, 2000 at 08:05:35 PT
By Mark Eddington 
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune
 Utah County Commissioner David Gardner said Wednesday that he felt vindicated by initial test results that found no trace of alcohol in his system, but questions may linger because a police officer discarded a second urine sample.   Juab County Attorney Dave Leavitt, who is overseeing the case, characterized the unnamed officer's actions as an unfortunate lapse in judgment and an honest mistake, although the officer has been reprimanded. 
  "I'm disappointed, for I believe the tests would have either cleared Mr. Gardner of this ordeal that has proven to be so horrible for him, or it would have detected the presence of alcohol," said Leavitt, who ordered the second urine test Monday, hours after Gardner was found slumped behind the wheel of his car at the county building parking lot in Provo. Gardner, 44, was first tested on Friday.   Without conclusive evidence of alcohol use by Gardner, Leavitt said, he probably will discontinue the investigation, which was prompted after news reports that the Republican commissioner had regularly been buying vodka at a state liquor store in Orem.   Contacted at his office late Wednesday afternoon, Gardner said he was pleased with the results from Friday's tests.   "I told people that I haven't been drinking," he said. "I'm glad the tests proved that to be the case." Gardner, who lives in Springville and moonlights as a professional counselor and a psychology professor at Utah Valley State College, has denied drinking the vodka. He insisted that he has been buying the half pints of Smirnoff for a patient he is trying to wean off alcohol.   Leavitt said he still will require Gardner to submit to random urinalysis tests through the end of July, which is when the commissioner's 9-month plea-in-abeyance agreement requiring him to abstain from alcohol expires. The deal was arranged with Pleasant Grove Justice Court Judge W. Brent Bullock in November after the commissioner pleaded no contest to drunken driving.   Results of the breath and urine tests Gardner took Friday showed no trace of alcohol. The test also proved negative for marijuana, cocaine and amphetamine use. Leavitt said it is standard procedure to test for illicit drugs as well alcohol.   Problems with the second urinalysis Leavitt ordered Monday arose when the first two labs the police officer took Gardner to for testing were closed. Leavitt said a sample of Gardner's urine finally was obtained at the state Adult Parole and Probation Office in Provo.   More snags arose the next day when the officer tried to turn the sample into WorkMed, an Intermountain Health Care facility the county contracts with to analyze urine samples. Leavitt said WorkMed officials refused to accept the sample because the test was not conducted at their facility.   "At that point, something unusual happened," Leavitt explained. "The officer ... unfortunately discarded the sample."   Even if the results from the second test were available, the conclusions investigators could draw would be limited. Leavitt said the tests only detect alcohol use within several days.   Mike Esplin, Gardner's attorney, downplayed the botched second test, saying what results are available are conclusive enough.   "Some people will try to make this into being some kind of conspiracy," he said. "But I see nothing suspicious in this."   If the tests showed proof of alcohol use, Bullock could have revoked Gardner's plea deal and jailed the commissioner for up 6 months.   Gardner hopes the initial test results will put an end to a week of intense speculation about his compliance with the court agreement and his political future.   "I told my family and the other commissioners that if I blow this thing out of the water by being dumb enough to drink alcohol, I would resign voluntarily. I would never again voluntarily put my family through what they've been through the last five days."     Published: January 13, 2000 Copyright 2000, The Salt Lake Tribune Cannabis News Drug Testing Articles:
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