SAN DIEGO — San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Allen Wereski pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of possession of a controlled substance on jail grounds.

Wereski was a detentions deputy at the time of his arrest, who had contact with inmates. According to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, he was arrested at a Vista Detention Center.

At the time of Wereski’s arrest, they said they believed to have found cocaine inside the deputy’s car. He has been suspended without pay since the arrest.

Monday’s arraignment started off with a notable difference as Wereski did not have counsel and sought a public defender at the arraignment, who at first requested the arraignment be continued. The judge did not agree to the request for continuance and pushed Wereski’s case to the last on the docket on Monday, when he was called back up for his arraignment.

“My brother is not here, I’m at a court date for someone that gets a court date, my brother died the day before his court date, I’m pissed,” Sabrina Weddle said.

Weddle was in the courtroom Monday in support of more reform for drugs in San Diego jail. She said her brother died of an overdose while in custody at a San Diego jail in 2021.

There is no indication or confirmation from authorities that Wereski had distributed the illicit drug.

The charge carries a maximum of a four-year sentence. Wereski had posted the $25,000 bail.

According to a report from SANDAG in 2022, drug use among men arrested in San Diego was at a 22-year high in 2021. The report said 83% of men arrested tested positive for at least one illegal substance, almost two in every three men booked into a San Diego jail tested positive for meth in 2021.

Wereski declined to comment with FOX 5 after Monday’s arraignment.