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Officer begged to hide drugs

A former Nevada County Animal Control officer pleaded with a county narcotics officer to get rid of evidence the day she was arrested on suspicion of drug possession, according to sheriff’s records.

“Help me,” Arlene Winstead reportedly told the officer. “Hurry … Get the meth out of my pocket.”

Winstead is scheduled to appear in Nevada County Superior Court for a pre-trial hearing on April 13.



Winstead, 39, was arrested Nov. 3, 2006, after Nevada County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit officers searched her and allegedly found two meth pipes in her county-issued Animal Control truck and a bindle of methamphetamine in the pocket of her uniform windbreaker.

As she sat in a police car after her arrest, according to a sheriff’s office incident report, Winstead asked narcotics Officer Chris Sharp (who since has been promoted to sergeant) several times to take the meth from her pocket, turning her head to watch for other investigators who were nearing the car.




“By her request,” Sharp wrote in his report, “it was apparent she expected/wanted me to remove, hide or conceal evidence.”

Winstead told investigators later that she had smoked meth at a motel on the 13000 block of Highway 49 with a woman with whom police had previous contact, according to sheriff’s records.

Police confiscated Winstead’s county-issued .38 special revolver and six rounds of ammunition.

Winstead was booked into Wayne Brown Correctional Facility and posted bond on bail of $11,365 later that same day.

Nevada County Deputy District Attorney Ken Tribby said in December 2006 that he filed two charges against Winstead, including possession of methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine while armed with a gun.

Winstead pleaded not guilty to the charges Jan. 2. Tribby refiled one charge of possession of methamphetamine April 2.

In many cases, charges against drug offenders are reduced if prosecutors determine the defendant is a good candidate for Prop. 36 Court, a drug treatment program.

Drug offenders are only eligible for Prop. 36 if they are charged with being under the influence of drugs or with possession of drugs.

Nevada County District Attorney Cliff Newell referred questions about the case to Tribby Wednesday. Tribby was not available for comment.

Winstead pleaded not guilty April 2 to the possession charge.

Investigators said Winstead had been under investigation for “a while” for illegal drug use before they tracked her down near the hotel.

Winstead began working for Nevada County Animal Control in 1998. The sheriff’s office took over administration of Animal Control in 2002.

Because Winstead worked for the agency before the sheriff took over and she was not a sworn deputy, said Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal, she had not undergone any drug testing.

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To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@ theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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