|State's attorney won't prosecute cases with DEA|
|Written by Cynthia Brown|
In Florida, State Attorney Willie Meggs has told state and local law-enforcement agencies that he will no longer prosecute cases that involve federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents. Meggs' controversial decision follows recent grand-jury hearing in which DEA agents were not allowed to testify voluntarily in the Rachel Hoffman case. Hoffman became a police informant after a raid where local authorities found small amounts of marijuana and MDMA in her residence.
Tallahassee police allegedly agreed to cut her a deal if she became a police informant and set up a deal with her supplier. Hoffman, 23, was working as a confidential informant for the Tallahassee Police Department in May when she was killed in a botched drug sting. Three DEA officers were involved in the operation.
Grand jurors ripped the authorities for sloppy work and carelessness in the case. They recommended that the department not work with the DEA until the agents are allowed to testify. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell took that recommendation seriously. He immediately met with his command staff and instructed them to cease working with the federal drug agency until it would cooperate with the State Attorney's Office, said spokesman Tony Drzewiecki.
Campbell also told his command staff to resolve any outstanding cases involving DEA agents and fast. "We are going to take direction from the State Attorney's Office based on their memorandum yesterday, but we had already taken this action," Drzewiecki told the AP. The DEA is "aware," of Meggs' letter, spokeswoman Jeannette Moran said, and had no further comment. They did however release a statement from Mark R. Trouville, the DEA's special agent in charge of the Miami Field Division.
"We feel it is important for the public to know that DEA did not refuse to testify before the grand jury in this case. ... In order to comply, the State Attorney's Office simply needed to issue a subpoena and provide the local United States Attorney's Office a summary of the information sought and its relevance to the proceeding." State's Attorney Meggs said subpoenaing the agents would provide them with immunity. "If they said something, I could not use it against them," he told reporters.
"I wanted them to come in and talk and tell the grand jury what their role was." In his letter, Meggs advised law-enforcement officials that if they wanted DEA involvement in their investigations, they should first contact the U.S. attorney to make sure he would prosecute the case.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald M. Bailey released the following statement: "The Florida Department of Law Enforcement works closely with State Attorney Willie Meggs and we will honor the direction he has taken. FDLE has pending investigations that involve the DEA, and we appreciate his commitment to prosecuting those cases. Meggs said the DEA is not involved in the majority of drug cases he prosecutes.
"If these agencies want to work with them and do their cases with them, that's fine," Meggs told reporters. "The DEA needs local law enforcement more than local law enforcement needs DEA."