Pubdate: Wed, 10 Dec 2003
Source: Pensacola News Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2003 The Pensacola News Journal
Authors: Amber Bollman, Brett Norman of News Journal


Operation Sandshaker Nets More Than 30

Some 40 people face drug-related federal and state charges in
connection with a major cocaine trafficking operation that agents have
been investigating for three years.

At least 32 people had been taken into custody Tuesday afternoon, and
more arrests were expected as authorities worked to locate additional

Federal authorities had search warrants for 12 locations in Escambia
and Santa Rosa counties and filed paperwork to seize the popular
Sandshaker Lounge & Package Store, two Pensacola Beach condominiums
and a house on Gonzalez Street.

In a 41-page affidavit submitted Monday to a federal grand jury,
agents detailed scores of telephone conversations that they
intercepted and apparent drug transactions they witnessed during their

Those under federal indictment are charged with conspiracy to
distribute more than 5 kilograms - roughly 11 pounds - of cocaine. If
convicted, they face prison sentences of 10 years to life and fines of
up to $4 million.

The list of state or federal defendants includes a millionaire
businessman, a mental health counselor and a former soccer coach.

Charles Switzer, 54, a former Texaco executive who is retired from a
management position at Lamar Advertising Co., has been supportive of
local schools. He sits on the Board of Governors at Pensacola Junior
College and, with his family, gave the college $1 million in 1998,
prompting the new campus arts center to be named the Anna Lamar
Switzer Center for the Visual Arts. Switzer also chaired the steering
committee for a multimillion-dollar fund-raising drive at the
University of West Florida Business School. With his wife, he endowed
the Charles and Fran Business Ethics Scholarship there.

Linda Taylor Murphy, 51, owner of the Sandshaker Lounge, and her
husband, Robert Marshal Murphy, 51. Linda Murphy is actively involved
at Pensacola Beach Charter School, where her daughter is enrolled.

Pamela Susan Reynolds, 52, led the Gulf Breeze High School girls
soccer team to their state championship in 2000. She was chosen a
Class 2A coaches of the year by the Florida Athletic Coaches

Theresa Ann Williams, 43, is a state probation officer and vice
president of the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency for 2003-

John Todd Pallin, 40, is the boat captain for famed Pensacola attorney
Fred Levin. He also is the son of Dr. John Pallin, a retired
department head at the West Florida Medical Center Clinic and longtime
associate professor at Louisiana State University medical school.

Dana Lynn Powell, 44, a licensed mental health counselor who has
practiced at downtown Pensacola's DeMaria and Associates.

Claire McCarty, 32, a dietitian at Baptist Hospital.

Famous for Bushwacker

The arrests were announced Tuesday by the U.S. attorney's office.
Prosecutors also announced their intention to seek forfeiture of the
Sandshaker Lounge.

Early Tuesday afternoon, patrons at the Pensacola Beach institution
were quietly chatting in the dimly lighted bar.

About 2 p.m., however, Drug Enforcement Administration agents,
assistant U.S. marshals and Escambia sheriff's deputies ushered the
patrons out and began to search the establishment.

Rick Humphries, DEA agent in charge of the Pensacola field office,
declined comment at the scene.

The Sandshaker, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in October, is
perhaps most famous for discovering one of Pensacola Beach's classic
drinks - the Bushwacker.

The bar is a staple of beach life. Regulars range from businessmen to
beach bums.

"This just blows me away," said Rick Zern, commodore of the Pensacola
Beach Yacht Club and occasional patron. "I never would have thought it
in a million years."

Linda Murphy's attorney, Jim Jenkins, said the Sandshaker would be
open for business today. He preferred not to comment about the
investigation or Murphy's arrest.

Recorded Calls

As part of the investigation, code-named "Operation Sandshaker,"
agents recorded calls to and from the cell phone of Mitchell "Jackie"
Seale III, 50, a Pensacola Beach man accused of helping to smuggle
cocaine into the area from downstate Florida.

Agents also installed closed-circuit surveillance cameras in Seale's
Panferio Drive home to videotape suspected drug abuse and illegal

Throughout the affidavit, agents document calls that Seale received
from individuals requesting and making arrangements to purchase
cocaine. Agents also observed him delivering large quantities of
cocaine to other suspects, many of whom are believed to have been
helping him distribute the drug.

Seale was behind bars Tuesday and could not be reached for

Charles Switzer allegedly contacted Seale about buying cocaine on more
than one occasion. Investigators say on Nov. 24, Switzer was seen
purchasing and snorting cocaine inside Seale's home.

Law enforcement agents also overheard Switzer describing himself as a
"big-time drug dealer."

A woman at Switzer's house declined comment Tuesday

On Nov. 10, agents said they witnessed Glen Murray Sanford, 50,
snorting cocaine inside Seale's home and discussing "the distribution
of several ounces," the affidavit states.

After the two said they were out of cocaine, Seale was observed with a
set of scales, walking from his home to the nearby residence of Linda
and Robert Murphy.

The affidavit states that Seale spent about 10 minutes inside before
walking back to his home, where he was videotaped "packaging and
snorting cocaine."

The next day, he was seen "cutting, weighing and packaging cocaine
into individual plastic bags."

On Nov. 21, agents observed Seale counting and discussing the
collection of money. He indicated that he had $24,400 and explained to
Kenneth Craig Barrow, 51, who also is facing a federal charge, that
Seale had to get more money from Linda Murphy.

The two then were seen driving from Seale's house to the Sandshaker,
apparently to obtain money to be used to purchase cocaine in South
Florida, the agent noted. According to the affidavit, Seale, Barrow
and Dana Powell made the trip to buy the drugs.

On several occasions, agents observed suspects exchanging money for
cocaine. They also used criminal informants who purchased the drug
from at least two suspects while under surveillance.

Many of the transactions took place at Seale's home, while others were
observed outside outside Powell's workplace, near Veterans Memorial
Park on Bayfront Parkway, and outside the Santa Rosa Yacht and Boat
Club at Pensacola Beach.

During one transaction, Seale allegedly left an envelope containing
cocaine underneath the doormat at the Jackson Street home of Todd
Pallin, 40. The drugs were seized and tested by authorities.

Agents also intercepted telephone conversations and observed activity
indicating that large quantities of cocaine were being stored at the
Gonzalez Street home and inside a unit at the Emerald Isle Resort

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