Local addiction program leader arrested on drug charges

Updated: May. 15, 2019 at 8:12 AM EDT
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SARASOTA (WWSB) - The owner and founder of a drug recovery center in Manatee County is now facing drug charges.

Learn to Fish Recovery Center is a place where some local women come to seek help from drug addiction, but the owner, 54-year-old Sabrina Sweeney, now needs help of her own to fight drug charges after being arrested on May 9.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Sweeney was a passenger in a vehicle registered in her name that pulled into the 800 Block of 10th Avenue West in Bradenton, a high drug area that is known for the sale of illicit narcotics. After two men approached her car, a Bradenton Police officer walked up and spoke to the driver, 39-year-old Adam Gomez, and Sweeney, asking if they had any drugs in their possession.

Officers say Sweeney admitted that she had marijuana in her possession, but said she had a medical marijuana card. Officers say she was not able to produce once.

After getting consent to search of the vehicle, officers say they found three plastic sandwich bags of narcotic pills lying on a blanket on the floor board in the rear seat, directly behind the center console in a place officers say both Gomez and Sweeney would have been able to reach. They also found a vape pen with traces of THC in it and say Sweeney admitted that it belonged to her.

Both Sweeney and Gomez were arrested and charged with drug possession and possession of a drug without a prescription. Sweeney was additionally charged with marijuana possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, while Gomez was additionally charged with driving on a suspended license.

Manatee County Commissioner Misty Servia is on the Board of Directors for Learn to Fish. She says despite Sweeney’s arrest, she does not plan to step down.

“Here’s what I’ll tell you: I’ve known her since [age] 5 and she’s been transformative to those who struggle,” Servia said. “Let’s wait and hear the facts."

Learn to Fish Recovery Center released a statement on Sweeney’s behalf. It states, “Sabrina Crain-Sweeney, founder and CEO of Learn to Fish Recovery, is innocent until proven guilty. Sabrina loves and cares for women and children struggling with addiction and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sabrina feels very strongly that she is innocent until proven guilty.”

Sweeney is expected to be in court June 7.

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