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Monday, March 4, 2024

Leesburg man jailed over methamphetamine in backpack

James Eric Michaels
James Eric Michaels

A Leesburg man was arrested after police found methamphetamine stashed in a backpack during a traffic stop.

James Eric Michaels, 52, was a passenger in a gold Buick pulled over by a Lake County sheriff’s deputy on Saturday night for having its license plate obstructed. A bicycle rack with what appeared to be a piece of wood strapped to it was attached to the vehicle’s trunk, which obstructed the tag. The rear right taillight was also broken and taped over, according to the sheriff’s office arrest report.

The deputy immediately noticed Michaels in the passenger seat with an opened Budweiser beer can hidden between his legs. Both he and the driver provided their identification, and the deputy returned to his vehicle to issue a warning for the expired tag, the report said.

A K9 unit arrived on scene and conducted a free-air sniff around the vehicle and gave a positive alert. The occupants were removed as the vehicle was searched. Shortly after the search started, Michaels told deputies, “The duffle bag isn’t mine,” in reference to a black backpack sitting on the floorboard directly where he was just seated, according to the report.

The deputy searched the bag and found a glasses case that contained a glass smoking device commonly used to smoke methamphetamine. The deputy also found a cigarette pack that contained a cut blue straw with crystal residue and a small plastic bag containing a small rock-like substance that tested positive for methamphetamine, the report said.

Additionally, a cold red Budweiser beer can was found in the backpack. Michaels admitted to putting the unopened beer can in the backpack but denied ownership of the bag, according to the report.

Despite his claims, the Ohio native was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. He was taken to the Lake County Jail with bond set at $3,000.

Michaels was previously arrested in February for driving while his license was revoked for DUI.

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