VALPARAISO — A Chesterton High School teacher faces a felony drug charge after inadvertently dropping a bag of cocaine outside the school, which was later discovered by a parent picking up her daughter, according to newly filed charging documents.
Patrick Miller, 60, of Jackson Township, is charged with possession of cocaine within 500 feet of school property, according to court records.
The parent told police she was picking up her daughter from practice about 4:30 p.m. April 15 when she noticed a small baggie containing white powder in the parking lot.
She took it into the school, wrapped it in a brown paper towel and took it home with the intention of bringing it back the next day when school officials and police would be present, records state. She returned the next day and provided it to police, who confirmed it was cocaine.
An officer viewed surveillance footage from April 15 of the area in question and watched as Miller pulled keys from his pocket and then the bag in question fell to the ground unnoticed, according to charges. He then watched as the parent picked up the bag about four hours later.
Police said Miller arrived at the school at 6:56 a.m. on the day in question and parked where the bag was discovered. He dropped the bag at 12:18 p.m. while leaving for his break.
Miller later told police he went to Illinois, picked up two friends and the package in question, which he assumed was cocaine, according to the charges.
He then gave several differing stories about how he came into possession of the cocaine, police said. He admitted to having used the drug in the past, but reportedly refused to take a drug test.
The Duneland School Corporation said it cooperated with Chesterton police during the investigation and has taken "immediate steps to remove the staff member from employment."
"At no time were students involved in the incident," according to the school district.
Miller was not yet in custody at the Porter County Jail as of late Monday afternoon, according to the sheriff's department.