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School bus driver busted by drug dog in Cedar City gets 30 days in jail

Published February 27, 2013 11:14 am

High school trip • Parents had hired bus company to take recent graduates from Canyon View High School to Disneyland in California.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A chartered school bus driver who was busted for drug possession minutes before a scheduled trip from Cedar City to Disneyland is now serving a 30-day jail sentence.

Brandon Mark Gillman, 30, was sentenced to jail Feb. 12 for his conviction on one third-degree felony for drug possession and one class B misdemeanor for driving under the influence. Gillman pleaded guilty to both charges in 5th District Court in November. He originally faced two felonies and three misdemeanors, but prosecutors reduced the charges in a plea bargain.

Defense attorney Keith Barnes said Wednesday in a phone conversation that Gillman's recent progress prompted the judge to allow him to serve his sentence only on weekends. The relatively unusual sentence will allow Gillman to remain employed, Barnes added.

The case began May 24, while Gillman was working as a driver for Utah Trailways, a chartered bus service. According to a police report, a group of parents hired the company to take recent graduates from Canyon View High School in Cedar City to Disneyland, in Anaheim, Calif.

Before the buses departed, the parents asked police to do a K-9 drug sniff, the report states. However, before the search began Gillman reportedly began acting suspiciously. Police said he became very nervous and, during the search, picked up his backpack, pulled something out and appeared to be leaving the bus.

The officer asked Gillman to leave his backpack, the report states, and he did. Shortly thereafter, the drug dog singled out Gillman's backpack. Officers eventually asked Gillman to empty his pockets and give them permission to search the bag. He consented, and police discovered three bags "containing a powder substance," as well as pills identified as Endocet, a pain killer, and Zolpidem, which is used for insomnia. Gillman reportedly told police the Endocet was a prescription.

The police report also states that the powder in two of the bags "had a slight color and with a sweet odor." The third reportedly looked like cocaine, but "a drug identifying test was conducted and showed negative for cocaine."

Barnes said that the substance was actually a protein powder.

Gillman later reportedly failed on-scene drug tests, and his urine later came up positive for "cocaine and oxys."

Utah Trailways president Dick Maben said that Gillman's employment was immediately terminated following the incident and he has not worked for the company since. Maben also said that the company has pre-hire drug screenings and random drug tests. Following Gillman's arrest those policies were reviewed by the department of transportation, Maben explained.

Gillman worked for the company for a year or less, Maben said, and had previously been "competent and popular driver."

According to Barnes, Gillman has been clean since his arrest, has undergone counseling and was commended by the judge. Barnes also said that he was optimistic about Gillman's future.

"He wanted to take responsibility and he's done that," he added.

Prosecutors who worked on the case could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

jdalrymple@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jimmycdii