MADD: Tainted-Cookie Suspect Was Doing Community Service

A teenager suspected of delivering drug-laced cookies to a dozen police stations in north Texas was fulfilling court-ordered community service work for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the organization said Wednesday.

Christian V. Phillips told the police stations he was representing MADD when he dropped off baskets of homemade treats over the past few weeks, officials said. A few officers ate the cookies, but no illnesses have been reported.

MADD's North Texas chapter said in a statement Wednesday that it was "profoundly disturbed" and was investigating.

The 18-year-old was arrested Tuesday at the Lake Worth department after officers — who had received a call from MADD saying that cookies taken to another station may have been tainted — accepted the basket, thought they smelled marijuana and did preliminary tests that instead found traces of LSD, said Lake Worth Police Chief Brett McGuire.

When he was taken into custody Tuesday, Phillips had a spreadsheet of about two dozen departments with 13 already checked off, McGuire said. While talking to detectives, Phillips denied trying to contaminate the goodies or harm anyone and said one of his friends might have been smoking pot while he was baking, McGuire said.

Officers found some drug paraphernalia in his car and confiscated the vehicle, McGuire said.

Now, departments across the region — most of them in small towns — are deciding whether to press charges and re-examining their policies on accepting home-baked goodies from usually well-meaning citizens.

"We believe we were targeted first, but he's mad at a lot of agencies," said Watauga Police Chief Rande Benjamin, where Phillips was arrested last summer for hitting an officer. "Ninety-nine out of 100 times, when people bring things in, you don't have a problem. But I have told everyone to be more cautious."

Phillips was arraigned Wednesday in Lake Worth and remained jailed on a $75,000 bond on a charge of tampering with a consumer product, a second-degree felony. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

McGuire said Phillips was meeting Wednesday in jail with his attorney, who did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press.

Phillips was on probation for an assault last summer after officers responded to a loud party at a Watauga house, Benjamin said. Several teens fled, but Phillips tried to "karate chop" an officer's arm, Benjamin said.

The four Watauga officers who ate the cookies delivered to their office never got sick but have the option of being tested for drugs for "their peace of mind," Benjamin said.

In Fort Worth, seven people who were exposed to the cookies — including two who just touched the basket and didn't eat them — did not become ill but were treated at a hospital and were being tested for drugs, Lt. Paul Henderson said.

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office is testing cookies from Lake Worth and at least one other department, McGuire said.

Mary Kardell, executive director of North Texas MADD, did not return calls seeking comment.