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Pot inside purse leads to arrest

It could turn out to be a costly restaurant outing for Melissa Sperry. The 20-year-old woman forgot her purse Tuesday night at the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on U.S. 41 in Inverness. According to Inverness police, when she returned 20 minutes later, an officer already had retrieved the purse _ and the four plastic bags of marijuana inside.

Sperry, of 5121 E Live Oak in Inverness, was arrested and charged with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana. She posted $5,000 bail and was released from the Citrus County Jail, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

The case started about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, when a restaurant employee called police to report the lost purse, records show. The officer found the marijuana when he rummaged through the purse looking for the owner's identification.

It was not clear whether Sperry had eaten at the restaurant. An assistant manager said the restaurant's owner and manager were not available for comment Wednesday night.

Sgt. Chuck Berridy said the marijuana was in plain view in the purse. When Sperry returned to retrieve her bag, the officer asked her two questions:

Is this your purse? Yes.

Do you know what's inside? Yes. Marijuana.

If Sperry had said she did not know what was in the purse, then an arrest would have been difficult or impossible, Berridy said. Sperry could have said someone else put the drugs in her purse.