On July 18, a former West Palm Beach police officer received a sentence of five years in prison for his role in a drug trafficking scheme. Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office say that the 46-year-old defendant sold illegal steroids and prescription drugs while he was on duty and armed with his service pistol.
The five-year sentencing comes on the heels of the defendant's April guilty plea. It is unknown whether the defendant agreed to a plea bargaining settlement with the prosecution in an effort to avoid greater charges. As it stands now, the defendant pleaded guilty to carrying a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime. In addition to five years behind bars, the defendant must also provide $25,810 in restitution.
Prosecutors say the defendant operated two health and wellness clinics in addition to his job as a police officer with the West Palm Beach Police Department. They say that in March the defendant admitted to at least one instance of delivering drugs to another cop while he was on duty and carrying his police weapon.
Criminal defendants accused of drug crimes should know that asset seizure occurs very frequently with these types of charges. Under the theory of asset seizure laws, the government can attempt to assert its authority to seize homes, cars and other valuables. In most cases, attorneys working for the government will attempt to show a link between money earned through illegal means and the purchase of those items marked for seizure. Defendants have a right to challenge those allegations and offer evidence and testimony of their own to refute those claims.
Additionally, a criminal defendant always retains a right to appeal an unfavorable decision. Federal appeals can be very complicated and almost always require the assistance of a skilled legal professional. Although no outcome can be guaranteed, some appeals can actually reverse a conviction determined by a previous court.
Source: Miami Herald, "Fla. police officer gets 5 years for selling drugs" Jul. 18, 2014