Call about fight leads police to drugs in house

A man out on bail is arrested again, accused of being part of a cocaine pipeline.

By JONATHAN ABEL, Times Staff Writer
Published October 30, 2007

CLEARWATER - A man out on bail on a drug trafficking charge was arrested again this weekend in Clearwater and accused of conspiring to distribute even larger quantities of cocaine.

Tasman "Tas" Bernstein, 28, of Chicago was charged in federal court with conspiring to possess more than 5 kilograms of cocaine with the intent to distribute it.

Authorities found the drugs Saturday after they were called out to 3168 Sandy Ridge Drive in Clearwater, where Bernstein is renting a room. According to court filings, police arrived at the address to deal with a fight inside the house.

In the process of looking for the victim of the fight, authorities came across a few small bags of drugs.

They searched the house and found close to 3 kilograms - or nearly 6.6 pounds - of powdered cocaine, a Chinese assault rifle and smaller amounts of marijuana and prescription pills.

Much of the stash was kept in Bernstein's bedroom, which has its own lock and key.

In August 2006, Clearwater police arrested Bernstein in a Holiday Inn parking lot. Authorities seized 76 grams - or 2.6 ounces - of powdered cocaine, along with 7 grams of marijuana and $1,701 in cash. He was released on $55,250 bail a few days later.

Since then, court filings say, Bernstein has been involved in moving as much as 30 kilograms - or 66 pounds - of cocaine from Tampa to Chicago.

While Bernstein is listed as a resident of Chicago, he has lived in the house on Sandy Ridge Drive for the past few months, according to court filings.

He is being held at a Hillsborough County jail without bail.

Bernstein's attorney, Michael David Fluke of Tampa, declined to comment on the case Monday.

Times staff writer Kevin Graham contributed to this report. Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or 727 445-4157.