Rudebush gets 4 years, APD keeps car and cash
VOORHEESVILLE — Jason Rudebush, 29, of Voorheesville, was sentenced last week to four years in state prison for possessing hallucinogenic mushrooms.
The sentence, handed down by Roger McDonough in Albany County Supreme Court on Jan. 29, includes three years of post-release supervision.
Rudebush had pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance, a felony.
His arrest followed a traffic stop in Altamont a year and a half ago. Last November, after a plea deal was struck, the Altamont Police displayed a car, drugs, and about $4,000 in cash they had confiscated from Rudebush.
Rudebush e-mailed The Enterprise after the story ran, stating, “That car they kept I worked three jobs and earned. That money they took wasn't even mine and I had to pay it back. Things are not always what they seem. And, in this instance, I know full well. I’ve learned what its like to be made desperate.
“This system doesn’t do what’s in people’s best interest. It does what it can to make itself look better and leaves the truth at the door. I'll leave it at that.”
Rudebush said he wanted to tell the newspaper “the whole story” but could not be reached this week as he was incarcerated.
Cecelia Walsh, spokeswoman for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, said this week that it was typical for a police agency to keep the goods confiscated in a drug arrest.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, talking to The Enterprise this week about the Project Lifesaver (see editorial), said that program and many others were paid for with “asset forfeiture money.” He quoted the district attorney’s slogan to make crime pay, and said money seized from drug dealers paid for such things as school supplies for needy children and community events.
Rudebush, who lived at 2 Francis Lane in Voorheesville, was arrested on July 15, 2012 for three felony charges relating to criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell. He was also arrested for a misdemeanor — criminal use of drug paraphernalia, for having scales — and for several traffic infractions.
Officer Christopher Laurenzo with the Altamont Police said Rudebush was coming back from Camp Bisco, a music festival centered on The Disco Biscuits band.
The arrest report describes events unfolding this way: Rudebush was driving south on Altamont Boulevard at 47 miles per hour in a zone for 30. When Officer Patrick Thomas turned on his emergency lights to make a traffic stop, Rudebush “sped up and tried to evade police by taking a sharp left turn off of Altamont Boulevard into the Altamont Oaks.”
He then jumped out of his vehicle and started to run, the report says. Thomas yelled at him to get back in the car, and he did. Thomas noted a “strong smell” of marijuana and saw a bag on the floor, which contained mushrooms.
Rudebush said, “That’s not mine. I don’t know how that got in there,” the report says. There were two passengers in the car: a woman in front and a man in back. The State Police arrived on the scene and, as the backseat passenger got out of the car, police saw “a glass marihuana pipe on the seat where he was seated. He also stated that it was not his,” the report said.
The front-seat passenger got out, too, and police discovered in the center console “a larger amount of mushrooms and 2 baggies within it that each contained an off-white powder substance.” Thomas then found a stack of 20-dollar bills wrapped in a rubber band in the armrest and more money in a wallet in the center console.
Laurenzo said in November that Rudebush “took a plea” and would serve four years. Until the case was settled, he said, the Altamont Police stored the confiscated goods. The mushrooms went to the district attorney’s office, he said, while the Altamont Police Department stored the scales and “bath salts” — a term used for drugs often sold under the guise of being bath salts because the white crystals look like actual bath salts.
The car, a 2000 Volkswagen Passat, was stored in a garage at the back of the police station on Altamont’s Main Street, Laurenzo said; the drugs and cash were kept in an evidence locker at the station.
“We seized it,” said Laurenzo. “Part of his deal is he’ll lose his car and money.”
Asked what would happen to the drugs, he said the Drug Enforcement Administration would eventually destroy them.
Laurenzo, who has been on the Altamont force for seven years, said of the goods confiscated, “For a traffic stop, it’s the biggest I know of.”