“If the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is bending the rules…when investigating one of their own officers, what are they doing with the average citizen…?” – Defense Lawyer Ken Padowitz
Larry Barszewski – Sun Sentinel
Dec 3, 2015
Officer Kevin Pisano is still charged with possessing a controlled substance, a third-degree felony, but Broward Circuit Judge Michael Rothschild said the police and their informant “acted in a way that offends decency and a sense of justice” and threw out the more serious delivery charges.
Rothschild’s November decision was based in part on the informant’s implicit offer of sex to get Pisano’s attention and a detective’s failure to preserve evidence.
Pisano was arrested in December 2011 after police said he handed a confidential informant four Percocet pills and a Vicodin pill while sitting in his marked police car. He was charged with delivery of oxycodone [Percocet], and both delivery and possession of hydrocodone [Vicodin] after police found another Vicodin pill inside his squad car.
According to Rothschild’s four-page order, Detective Jeffrey Jenkins received an anonymous tip that Pisano was involved in illegal narcotic activity. Jenkins then recruited Stephanie Martin, who had earlier contact with Pisano and was known by him to be addicted to pain pills, as a confidential informant.
But Pisano ignored Martin’s numerous phone calls and text messages until she sent him two photos of herself either nude or in a sexually suggestive pose and begged Pisano for pain pills saying she was in withdrawal. After pills were exchanged, Pisano was arrested.
Jenkins’ testimony showed he did not follow proper procedures for using a confidential informant and also provided Martin with a paid hotel room and about $600 for her work, Rothschild wrote.
The judge was concerned about Jenkins’ failure to preserve evidence in the case. Jenkins had as many as 82 communications with Martin about the investigation two days before Pisano’s arrest, but didn’t save any of them. He only preserved a few photographs of texts he selected.
Jenkins also returned Martin’s phone to her at the end of the investigation without copying any of the information it contained. And the judge said Jenkins didn’t keep any record of his frequent communications with Martin on the day of the alleged crime.
“The court is very concerned that based on Detective Jenkins’ testimony Fort Lauderdale Police Department may have a policy favoring non-preservation of evidence, itself an egregious act,” Rothschild wrote.
No trial date has been set in the case on the remaining charge. Pisano is suspended without pay pending the outcome of the case.
Ken Padowitz, the attorney representing Pisano, said he plans to seek dismissal of the final charge as well.
“This was a tragic injustice that was perpetrated on this police officer by an investigation run amok,” Padowitz said. “If the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is bending the rules and ignoring protocols when investigating one of their own officers, what are they doing with the average citizen when It comes to fairness and following the rules.”
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