D.A. drops drug charges against punk rocker

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Nov 16, 2006
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Salt Lake City, UT
D.A. drops drug charges against punk rocker

By: ANDREA MOSS - Staff Writer

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2007/04 ... _18_07.txt

ESCONDIDO -- It's official: A local company's all-purpose liquid soap really is clean.

Prosecutors Tuesday dropped all charges against a punk rocker arrested earlier this month in Orange County after a field test showed the Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap he was carrying contained the date-rape drug Gamma Hydroxy Butyrate, or GHB.

Orange County District Attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami said it dismissed a felony charge of possession of a controlled substance and three related charges against rocker Don Bolles on Tuesday morning, after a crime lab's follow-up test revealed the soap did not have GHB or any other drugs in it.

"The crime lab test was more of a precise, refined test" than the field test, Emami said.

Escondido-based Dr. Bronner's has been making its organic and peppermint-scented Magic Soap for nearly 60 years. The company, sometimes described as a "counterculture" business, rallied behind rocker Don Bolles after his April 4 arrest in Newport Beach.

Company President David Bronner said Tuesday that the updated finding "completely" vindicates both his company and its soap. He said he remains concerned, though, because his own tests showed that the field drug kit that produced the false negative results in Bolles' case does the same for soaps manufactured by two large, mainstream manufacturers.

"We're looking into our legal options," said Bronner, adding the company's attorneys plan to ask test manufacturer ODV Inc. to take the test off the market. "We want to stop sales of this particular test or, at the very least, there has to be full disclosure on the packaging and marketing that this tests positive for soap and obviously don't rely on the results."

Calls to Florida-based ODV's office late Tuesday afternoon were answered by a recorded message that said the company had already closed for the day.

Bolles' real name is Jimmy Michael Giorsetti, but he is better known by the stage name he uses as a drummer for The Germs punk rock band. His arrest over Easter weekend came after a Newport Beach police officer pulled Bolles over for driving a van with a broken taillight.

During the stop, the officer allegedly became suspicious about a container of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap that Bolles had with him. The rocker, who has said he was on his way to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at the time, was arrested after the soap tested positive for GHB, which is made from cleaning chemicals.

The illegal drug, which can create a sense of euphoria in those who take it, is used as both a party and a "date rape" drug.

Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap contains coconut, hemp, olive and jojoba oils. The Escondido company put up $2,500 toward Bolles' $25,000 bond and paid about $5,000 for attorneys to defend him against the drug possession charges after learning about the musician's arrest, David Bronner said Tuesday.

He said he bought several of the ODV field kits and used them to conduct his own tests on the Magic Soap as well as soap manufactured by two nationally known companies. In all three cases, Bronner said, the products tested positive for drugs even though none of the soaps contains any.

That raises questions about whether field tests on other household products might also produce false negatives, Bronner said.

"This whole thing just seems really disturbing," he said.

Reached by cell phone, Bolles, 50, said his "strange" appearance -- "I had a big furry hat on" -- and the 1968 Dodge van he was driving may have sparked some of the arresting officer's suspicions. Although he was told that pleading guilty could help him get out of jail more quickly, the rocker said he felt it would be wrong to admit to something he did not do.

He ended up spending nearly four days behind bars. Bolles said he holds no animosity for anyone involved but is relieved to be cleared of any wrongdoing because the drug charges he faced could have threatened his ability to join The Germs on an upcoming tour of Europe and Canada.

"I think a lot of people were probably trying to do their job and do a good job," said the rocker, who admitted to having run-ins with law enforcement in the past. "(But) it ended up with a good person spending a lot of time in jail over Easter weekend ... for possessing soap."

The incident garnered a fair amount of publicity for The Germs and Dr. Bronner's Soaps. Both Bolles and David Bronner said they did not seek the attention but felt the situation was worthwhile because it revealed a problem with the drug test.

Bolles said he also got one other little extra as a result of the incident.

"They gave me a whole bunch of soap," the musician said, referring to the Escondido company. "So I can't wait to get home and take a shower."

-- Contact staff writer Andrea Moss at (951) 676-4315, Ext. 6654, or [email protected].

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