SPRING GROVE – An attorney’s claim that police mistook pistachio shells for marijuana during a traffic stop that eventually led to drug charges for a Spring Grove woman isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, police said.
When an officer pulled over 59-year-old Nancy Pahlman on Jan. 5, police noticed a “green leafy substance” in the car’s center console, Spring Grove Police Chief Thomas Sanders said. Pahlman’s attorney, Phil Prossnitz, has said the suspected marijuana was no more than pistachio shells – but Sanders is skeptical.
“It’s up to the judge to determine who’s more credible and what’s more reasonable,” Sanders said.
Pahlman agreed to let police search her car – a search that revealed a prescription bottle of tramadol belonging to her sister-in-law. Although Pahlman said she has a prescription of her own for the drug, she failed to produce it and was arrested, Sanders said.
Pahlman is a mother of three, grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of two children, according to a motion filed by her attorney in McHenry County court. She is charged with possession of a controlled substance, which typically is punishable by one to three years in prison.
Pahlman was at the McHenry County Courthouse for a court appearance Thursday morning, and her case was continued to March 26. Prossnitz will continue his attempts to prove that police didn’t have a strong enough reason to search Pahlman’s vehicle.
“I think there are going to be a lot of valid points raised by both sides, but at this juncture, I think it’s best to have this debate in a courtroom,” Prossnitz said. “I have complete confidence in independent judiciary looking at this play on the field and making the right call.”
A year earlier, when Pahlman said she was driving a family member to cancer treatment, the pills fell out of the relative’s bag, and Pahlman put them in her coat pocket, Prossnitz said. The family member died shortly after, and the pills were forgotten until she brought out her winter coat again, according to the attorney.
Regardless of whether Pahlman’s pistachio defense checks out, the fact remains that the woman was in possession of another person’s prescription pills, Sanders said.
“I think the evidence is going to show that the officer did what he was supposed to do, and it’s up to the judge to decide,” Sanders said Thursday.