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Drug War Goes Bad In Jacksonville FL

A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski
GORSKI-CENAPS Web Publications
Published On: July 28. 2001          Updated On: April 13, 2002
© Terence T. Gorski, 2001

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Drug War Goes Bad In Jacksonville Florida

In Jacksonville Florida three officers are being investigated for a long string of offenses related to the abuse of police powers related to the war on drugs.  The prosecutors and officers who were willing to put themselves on the line to stop this criminal conduct are to be commended.  The system of drug laws and enforcement, however, needs to be carefully examined to assure that a collaborative alliance is formed between law enforcement and treatment tom assure that we are helping individual addicts, their families, and their communities to prevent drug problems, intervene early when they occur

Jim Schoettler of The Florida Times-Union reported on July 25, 2001 that three Jacksonville, Florida police officers who were indicted in December of 2000 have been linked to as many as a dozen more drug convictions that may have been fraudulent.  

In these twelve drug cases, the defendants were charged with buying drugs from Officer Sinclair as part of undercover sting operations conducted from 1996 to 1999.  In each case the defendants had told their attorneys that one of three things had occurred:  they never purchased the drugs when solicited to do so by the officer; the officers attempted to shake them down and when they refused to give the officers money they were arrested, or they were intimidated into making a purchase by the officer as a result of violent threats.  

With the legal system stacked against them, all 12 men had pleaded guilty to drug charges rather than risk facing a police officer at trial and receiving more jail time. The sentences they did receive lasted from a few days to a few months.  

Chief Assistant Public Defender Bill White believes that at least some, if not all, of these defendants are telling the truth. 

In one case, a man was sentenced to life in prison based primarily on Officer Sinclair's testimony.  That sentence had to be dropped after the credibility of Officer Sinclair's testimony was damaged when the officer was charged in a murder, robberies, and drug trafficking.  Prosecutors said they will review new evidence in other cases brought to their attention where there is no independent corroboration of the indicted officer's testimony.

The credibility  of Officers Sinclair, Karl Waldon, and Jason Pough became an issue after Sinclair was  arrested in December and charged in crimes including robbery and the slaying of convenience store owner and the investigation revealed possible involvement of the other officers.  Former-officer Pough has pleaded guilty to a robbery and kidnapping and is cooperating against his former colleagues.  

Among the many crimes in the federal indictment are charges that the officers ripped off drugs and money during traffic stops.  Here's an example of the type of crimes these officers allegedly committed:  

In 1998 Malik Warthen, a taxi cab driver, picked up a passenger and was stopped by a patrol car and two undercover narcotics officers in an unmarked undercover police vehicle for allegedly driving through a stop sign by . The passenger in the cab was a cousin of one of the uncover narcotics officers.who allegedly planted the drugs found during the ensuing search. 

The narcotics officers, Pough and Waldon, contend that they were in an unmarked car when they allegedly saw Warthen drive through a stop sign. They radioed for assistance and a patrol car came to their assistance and stopped Warthen's cab. The officer in the patrol car provided back up and observed the entire situation.  

The undercover officers. Waldon and Pough,  approached the stopped cab wearing black ninja masks and had their guns drawn.  They said that they saw Warthen open the cab door as they were approaching and put a container containing crack cocaine under the car.  

Here's the problem.  The patrol officer, who had a clear view of both the cab driver and the drivers side of the cab, said he did not see Warthen open his car door.  During the process of a search by Waldon and Pough, the cab driver reports that he was robbed of several thousand dollars by the narcotics officers. 

Warthen, the cab driver, didn't bring up the cash robbery during his case because a plea agreement was arranged beforehand.  The can driver pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine and was sentenced to six months in jail rather than risk facing a minimum of three years in prison.

In another example Jacob Wilson was charged with selling marijuana to Sinclair in 1995.  Wilson has filed a motion in court seeking his 6-month sentence be set aside because he claims Sinclair and other officers beat him and planted the marijuana on him. Prosecutors have reviewed the case and haven't decided what action to take.

White said he wants applicable cases set aside by a judge -- hopefully with an agreement from prosecutors -- to clear the records of those convicted. White's office developed the cases from a list of 230 arrests made by Sinclair since 1993.  Chief Assistant State Attorney Jay Plotkin said each case will be judged individually.

This is just another of many examples of how our current War on Drugs Policy can go to far and result in the corruption of police officers and the unfair prosecution of innocent citizens.  Although isolated cases of police misconduct are to be expected, the vast sums of money involved in the illicit drug trade and the broad discretionary powers of police and prosecutors makes such corruption more likely.

I commend the prosecutors and officers who put themselves on the line to expose and stop this corruption.  All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for people of good will to do nothing.  Fortunately, in this case, people of good will acfed appropriately and made a difference.

Newshawk: Sledhead -
Pubdate: Wed, 25 Jul 2001
Source: Florida Times-Union (FL)
Copyright: 2001 The Florida Times-Union
Author: Jim Schoettler
Bookmark: (Corruption)

Other Examples Of When The Drug War Goes Too Far

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Drug Laws Used For Entrapment In Custody Case
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About the Author

Terence T. Gorski is internationally recognized for his contributions to Relapse Prevention Therapy. The scope of his work, however, extends far beyond this. A skilled cognitive behavioral therapist with extensive training in experiential therapies, Gorski has broad-based experience and expertise in the chemical dependency, behavioral health, and criminal justice fields.

To make his ideas and methods more available, Gorski opened The CENAPS Corporation, a private training and consultation firm of founded in 1982.  CENAPS is committed to providing the most advanced training and consultation in the chemical dependency and behavioral health fields.

Gorski has also developed skills training workshops and a series of low-cost book, workbooks, pamphlets, audio and videotapes. He also works with a team of trainers and consultants who can assist individuals and programs to utilize his ideas and methods.
Terry Gorski is available for personal and program consultation, lecturing, and clinical skills training workshops. He also routinely schedules workshops, executive briefings, and personal growth experiences for clinicians, program managers, and policymakers.

Mr. Gorski holds a B.A. degree in psychology and sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and an M.A. degree from Webster's College in St. Louis, Missouri.  He is a Senior Certified Addiction Counselor In Illinois.  He is a prolific author who has published numerous books, pamphlets and articles.  Mr. Gorski routinely makes himself available for interviews, public presentations, and consultant.  He has presented lectures and conducted workshops in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  

For books, audio, and video tapes written and recommended by Terry Gorski contact: Herald House - Independence Press, P.O. Box 390 Independence, MO 64055.  Telephone: 816-521-3015 0r 1-800-767-8181.  His publication website is


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