FOX 32 investigates flawed drug testing in Cook Co. courthouses - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

FOX 32 investigates flawed drug testing in Cook Co. courthouses

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

From bicycling to baseball, drug testing makes lots of headlines, but it's not just famous sports figures who get tested. A FOX 32 investigation raises questions about the reporting of results from drug tests conducted in Cook County courthouses every day.

A southwest suburban man came to FOX 32 News claiming Cook County's drug testing system was flawed because judges too often were not aware that prescription drugs could throw off the results.

Now, because of his case, changes are being made.

Two years ago, Roy Labuda of Willow Springs learned his father had six months to live. To cope with it, he did some drinking and got busted for drinking and driving.

"Yes, I went out, I did something that was illegal, I paid a price," defendant Roy Labuda confesses. "To this day, I still haven't had a drop of alcohol in two years. I learned my lesson."

Labuda pleaded guilty to reckless driving, received probation and Bridgeview courthouse on "DUI locators" was required to undergo monthly drug testing at the Bridgeview courthouse. That's when he says the real nightmare began.

Labuda went to jail, because on his first drug test last May, he tested positive for amphetamines. A judge raised his bond to $25,000. He spent a night behind bars before he could raise the cash to get out. He tested positive again in June and again July, even though he was certain he wasn't using any illegal drugs.

"I didn't initially know why I was coming up positive," Labuda says.

Finally, Labuda coughed up $500 for a drug test at Advocate Christ Medical Center, on the same day he was due for drug test later at the courthouse.

"So the next time we went into court, we had Roy do a urine drop in the morning which was negative," defense attorney Robert Olson explains. "We were in front of a judge that afternoon, Roy was tested, and it was positive for amphetamines."

So why was he testing positive? A counselor at the Pillars Foundation suggested it might be his prescription drugs. Using a UIC pharmacy college website, Labuda learned that a drug called buproprion--which he'd been taking for depression--could show up as amphetamines in drug tests. His lawyer says other prescription drugs could also cause such false positives.

"We're finding that amoxicillin, which a lot of people are on, is causing a false positive for cocaine," Olson says. "Robitussin for barbituates. Sudafed for amphetamines."

Labuda had listed buproprion on this form when he began his drug testing, but the form was never passed along to the judges who were seeing his test results.

Olson says if you're taking amoxicillin for a sinus infection, for example, you could test positive for one of the illegal drugs, and the judges don't know you were taking a prescription medication.

"Nobody had notified the judges of these false positives," Olson says.

The Central State's Institute of Addiction does most of the drug testing for Cook County defendants. The institute says its uses a "very sophisticated method" of testing, but defendants can check the results by spending $75 on an independent test. If a false positive is discovered, they'll be reimbursed.

But because of Labuda's case, the institute has now been ordered by the circuit court to provide judges with a list of the defendant's prescription medications so judges will know when defendants like Roy Labuda have an honest explanation for failing a drug test.

"It was just heartbreaking to know that I know that in my heart I was positive, but they would not accept, the documentation that I had," Labuda says.

Roy Labuda says his fight was as much about clearing his own name, as it was about making sure that nobody else went through the same turmoil.

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