WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Fort Lauderdale attorney accused of smuggling cocaine into a Palm Beach County jail had 37 sheets of paper with Bible quotes and pictures of an unknown woman on them with a cover sheet on top to disguise the papers as legal documents, according to a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office probable cause affidavit.
David Casals, 56, was arrested Friday on felony charges of trafficking cocaine, delivery of cocaine and introduction of contraband into a county facility.
According to the affidavit obtained Monday by WPTV, the arrest stems from an Oct. 24 jail visitation with three inmates.
Deputy Jessica Bryant was checking Casals into the West Detention Center in Belle Glade when she searched a manila folder he had that contained the suspicious papers, Detective Philip DiMola wrote in the affidavit.
Bryant noticed a translucent substance on the papers and notified her supervisors.
The papers had been disguised to look like a Spanish-to-English translation of an audio file for murder suspect Pedro Concepcion, the affidavit said.
As the supervising lieutenants further inspected the attorney's papers, Casals told them, "I hope there's nothing in there that shouldn't be," DiMola wrote.
Casals was allowed to visit his clients, but the papers were confiscated, DiMola wrote.
Bryant later reviewed the jail cameras and claimed that Casals met with a fourth inmate whom he had not initially reported to be visiting.
Forensic evidence determined the papers to have cocaine on them, the affidavit said.
DiMola spoke with several cooperating inmates who claimed that corrections deputies would provide them with drugs in jail, but since the arrests of several deputies last year, security measures have increased and "now attorneys of the inmates are bringing in the contraband by way of disguising the drugs onto papers."
"The cooperating inmates have indicated that these attorneys are aware that the papers have substances on them and are in fact contraband themselves and often get paid by the inmates for bringing in the contraband papers," DiMola wrote.
Doug Rudman is a Boca Raton defense attorney who previously worked as an assistant state attorney in Palm Beach County.
"You're going to find lawyers that are having trouble making ends meet," Rudman said. "They're having trouble paying their bills, and because of that, yes, we do see people that are inclined to break the law."
Rudman said some lawyers may be personally compromised. Some may have other motives to smuggle drugs to inmates.
"Never underestimate the power of greed," Rudman added.
In all, the weight of the cocaine-doused papers totaled 136.64 grams.
"The portions of the papers tested were saturated with cocaine," the affidavit said.
Rudman called contraband "big business for people who are in the jail."
"And you have family members on the outside who are willing to compensate people to bring that contraband in," he said.