POLICE BEAT

Portland transient hid crack in his mouth during traffic stop, police say

Posted April 25, 2012, at 12:11 p.m.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — A traffic stop over a fake inspection sticker ended with a man and a woman behind bars for possession of drugs, according to police.

South Portland police Officer Scott Corbett was on patrol in the Thornton Heights area of town Tuesday afternoon when he stopped a vehicle driven by Sheryl Wallace, 45, a Portland transient, when he saw a fake inspection sticker, Lt. Frank Clark said in a news release.

During the stop, Corbett believed that Wallace’s passenger, Dennis Splude, 55, also a Portland transient, was hiding drugs in his mouth.

Clark said Splude was uncooperative as officers patted him down, and Wallace approached and attempted to interfere. She was hesitant when a passerby stopped to assist police.

When backup arrived and the suspects were taken into custody, packets believed to contain crack cocaine were found in Splude’s mouth, according to Clark.

Splude was initially transported to Maine Medical Center due to concern of a possible drug injection, then taken to the Cumberland County Jail along with Wallace.

Additional drug-related evidence was seized during a search of Wallace’s vehicle.

Splude faces charges of possession of crack cocaine, refusing to submit to arrest and falsifying physical evidence, while Wallace was charged with displaying a fictitious inspection sticker, obstructing government administration, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.

Splude does have a history of drug offenses, including a conviction of federal cocaine conspiracy in 1999.

Both suspects remained at the Cumberland County Jail on Wednesday morning.

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