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Broward Deputy wins acquittal in felony theft trial

A suspended Broward Sheriff's Deputy, accused of not turning over cash seized in a drug sting operation, must be breathing a big sigh of relief. He was found not guilty of the most serious charges he faced: grand theft, evidence tampering and official misconduct. He was looking at serious consequences: had he been convicted on those charges, he could have received a sentence of up to 16 years in prison.

The 39-year-old deputy was convicted of falsifying public records and for that he received a 330-day sentence in the Broward County Jail. Because he has already served 271 days while awaiting and going through the trial, the deputy was left with only 59 days left to serve.

The deputy was set up in a sting operation by internal investigators. An undercover officer posing as a drug dealer at a gas station in Deerfield Beach was carrying fake prescription pills and cash in the amount of $7,340. The deputy arrested the phony drug dealer, but when he turned in the evidence, he only produced $6,000 in cash.

He testified at his trial that at the time he arrested the undercover cop, he had already figured out it was a sting operation with him as the target. He testified that he wanted to confront his accusers, and that he had every intention of turning over the money at the end of his shift. He said that the only reason he did not do so was because he was arrested before the end of his shift.

This case is a good illustration of winning an acquittal by planting reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury. In a case involving theft charges, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to permanently keep the allegedly stolen item. In defending property crimes charges, defense counsel can often argue the defendant lacked the necessary intent.

Source: Sun-Sentinel, "Broward deputy acquitted of felonies in theft sting," Rafael Olmeda, Feb. 27, 2013

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