Fla. lawyer allegedly ‘saturated’ papers with cocaine to bring to inmates
David Casals is now facing up to 50 years in prison for three felony charges
By Angie DiMichele
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A South Florida attorney is accused of attempting to smuggle cocaine into the jail using papers disguised as legal documents, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.
David Casals, who practices in Palm Beach and Broward counties, is facing a first-degree felony charge of trafficking cocaine, a second-degree felony charge of delivery of cocaine and a third-degree felony charge of introduction of contraband into a county facility, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Casals is facing a maximum sentence of up to 50 years for the three felony charges combined. He turned himself in to authorities Friday.
Casals allegedly attempted to bring documents “saturated” with cocaine into the jail, detectives found through their investigation, testing, interviews and search warrants, the Sheriff’s Office said.
On Oct. 24, Casals was checking in as a visitor at the jail, and a deputy began to search the items he had with him, according to a probable cause affidavit. The deputy inspected a manila folder that contained 37 pieces of paper “with bible quotes and pictures of an unknown woman” on them.
The deputy noticed the papers were concealed under a cover sheet that “attempted to disguise the papers as a transcription translation” of an audio file for an inmate from Spanish to English, the affidavit says. As the deputy looked at the “swollen” pages, she noticed stains from a see-through substance that resembled water marks.
After notifying supervisors about the pages, two lieutenants arrived to look at them. Casals said “I hope there’s nothing in there that shouldn’t be,” according to the affidavit.
Authorities took the pages and allowed Casals to meet with three inmates after telling him he could not give them anything, the affidavit says. But the deputy who inspected the pages was suspicious and watched the jail’s cameras.
The video showed Casals visited a fourth inmate who Casals did not say he was there to meet with, the affidavit says.
Another detective inspected the papers and said each page looked as if they were water-stained and dried out. The detective tested a page for synthetic cannabinoids, turning the page a yellow-brown color, revealing the presence of a mix of cannabinoids, the affidavit says.
On Nov. 1, detectives received a report from a Sheriff’s Office forensic scientist that determined the two pieces of paper tested were positive for cocaine at a weight of 9.9 grams, the affidavit says. Four more pages were tested a few days later, bringing the total weight to 29.5 grams for the six pages tested.
Detectives in the past year have interviewed inmates about drugs being smuggled into the jail, the affidavit says. Inmates said in the past, several corrections deputies would bring in drugs, but attorneys have begun to bring in contraband “by way of disguising the drugs onto papers” since several corrections deputies were arrested for smuggling in drugs.
The inmates who spoke with detectives said the attorneys know the papers they’re carrying have substances on them and are paid by the inmates to bring the papers in, the affidavit says.
The affidavit says investigations have found that 8.5-by-11 papers sprayed or soaked with cannabinoids or other substances are selling for $1,000 for cannabinoids to $3,000 for cocaine.
Papers “soaked with roach spray” have been brought in, the inmates said, according to the affidavit, and would smoke them. But that was poisoning inmates, hospitalizing them and causing seizures or rendering them unresponsive, the affidavit says. Some have stopped breathing and had to be treated for narcotics overdoses, the affidavit says.
The addiction to the “K-2 paper drug,” as inmates called it, is causing inmates to ask family members and those outside the jail to send them money to barter with other inmates for them or to buy the papers, the affidavit says.
Testing of all 37 pages showed a positive result of cocaine with a weight of over 136 grams, the chemist noting that the papers did not receive trace amounts but were rather “saturated with cocaine.” Nine of the papers tested were found to have no trace of controlled substances, the affidavit says.
Casals was released from the Palm Beach County Jail after posting a $58,000 bond, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“The only comment I’ll make is he turned himself in, he bonded out and we’re going to plead not guilty,” Casals’ attorney, Michael Salnick, said.
According to Casals’ Florida Bar profile, he has not been disciplined in the last 10 years.
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