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Coach charged in drug case

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

A Platte City man who serves as girls basketball coach at West Platte High School on Friday was charged with felony possession of marijuana, nearly a year after a significant amount of the drug was allegedly found in a search of his home.

David Charles Bridger, 49, could face up to seven years in prison and and a $5,000 fine if convicted. Bridger, in addition to coaching high school girls basketball, also serves as a teachers’ aide for the West Platte School District. School officials have reported Bridger has been placed on paid administrative leave, is prohibited from being on school property and prohibited from having contact with students or staff.

His son, David Chance Bridger, age 22, is also facing a felony charge for possession of marijuana and could face the same penalties.

The coach’s wife, Dorothy P. Bridger, 61, faces a misdemeanor charge in the case. She could face up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.

The father and son are free after posting bond of $2,500 each. The mother will be issued a summons to appear in court at a later date.

According to information obtained by The Landmark, a Platte County Sheriff’s Department detective in July of 2007 received a tip that David Chance Bridger was selling marijuana from the home at 29 Gates Drive in Platte City. Seven months later, in February of 2008, authorities were granted a search warrant for the residence as a result of a trash pull that was conducted from the residence, which resulted in the location of 2.0 grams of suspected marijuana.

During the serving of the warrant, David Chance Bridger was arrested. Upon searching the residence, detectives say they found 177.35 grams of what the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory later identified as marijuana in the garage and downstairs living area of the residence. Several paraphernalia items were also located in the home, according to court papers.

According to sources, the 177.35 grams of marijuana would have a street value of about $400. Authorities told The Landmark that a joint typically contains about one gram of marijuana.

According to court documents, while in custody after the search warrant was executed, the son stated that he gets the money to buy the marijuana from his father. He further stated that he and his father smoke marijuana together.

David Charles Bridger was arrested at the time and placed on a 24-hour hold. While being interviewed by detectives, the elder Bridger stated that he didn’t know anything about the marijuana, according to court records.

Some of the marijuana found during the search was contained in gallon-sized Ziploc bags, which were located in a cloth bag. The finger print cards that contained the fingerprints lifted from the bags were also submitted to the lab. The lab located a fingerprint that came from the Ziploc bags and identified it as belonging to the father .

Authorities said the coach’s wife faces a lesser charge because only a small amount of the marijuana could be identified as allegedly being in her possession. That amount was found in a drawer authorities believe was used by Dorothy Bridger.

Dorothy Bridger is a former art teacher in the North Platte School District.

Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd said the year delay in the filing of charges from the time the marijuana was allegedly found is not uncommon.

Zahnd, speaking generally and not in specific regard to the Bridger case, told The Landmark he considers the crime labs “overburdened and understaffed.”

Other sources said DNA evidence, such as fingerprints, can take up to a year to get back from the crime lab if the case being investigated involves a non-violent crime.

Even though it had been a year since the marijuana was allegedly found in the Bridger home, Zahnd said the statute of limitations on a felony crime is three years. The limitation period is only one year on a misdemeanor, he added.



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