Pubdate: Mon, 19 Dec 2011
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2011 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: Rafael A. Olmeda, Sun Sentinel


Jury Deadlocks On Trespassing Charge

FORT LAUDERDALE -- A Miramar police officer was found guilty on
Monday of official misconduct, falsifying records and criminal
mischief in connection with the search of a drug suspect's apartment
in 2010.

Officer Jean Paul Jacobi bowed his head as the verdicts against him
were read late Monday afternoon.

The jury deliberated more than four hours before announcing they
reached a partial verdict, deadlocking on trespass charges against
Jacobi and his co-defendant, Det. Jennifer Conger. Broward Circuit
Judge Raag Singhal declared a mistrial on those charges.

Jacobi is the second Broward police officer found guilty of criminal
activity this month. Former Hollywood Police Officer Dewey Pressley is
scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday for his Dec. 6 conviction on
two misdemeanor counts of falsifying records.

"It is extremely difficult" to get a jury to convict a police officer,
said prosecutor David Schulson. "As much as we tell a jury to treat
police officers the same as everyone else, they understand that
officers do put their lives on the line to protect the public."

The official misconduct charge against Jacobi is a third-degree
felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. The other charges
are misdemeanors. Jacobi's lawyer, Rhea Grossman, said she intends to
appeal after the trespass cases are resolved.

Jacobi, who has been free on bail since his arrest, will remain free
for now, Singhal ruled. Schulson did not say whether prosecutors would
seek a prison sentence.

Jacobi and Conger are due back in court on Jan. 18 to discuss the next
steps in the case. Schulson said the State Attorney's Office needs to
decide whether to retry the officers on the trespassing charge.

The search took place in an apartment used as a marijuana grow house
and was rented by Reginald Beldor, a drug suspect arrested after a
traffic stop on July 22, 2010. Police began forfeiting proceedings on
Beldor's car after his arrest, and the keys ended up with Conger,
according to testimony during the weeklong trial.

Schulson said Jacobi decided to check Beldor's apartment later that
night and found the door locked when he arrived. Conger, who was with
Jacobi and two other officers, is accused of handing him the keys when
no one answered the door.

"The message has got to be loud and clear," Schulson said. "This is
what search warrants are for."

Lawyers for the defendants said the door of the unoccupied marijuana
grow house was open when they arrived. But Schulson said they
compounded their misconduct by using a key to enter a locked bedroom
in the apartment and by breaking open a locked briefcase.

Schulson also said Jacobi lied when he wrote on an official record
that he broadcast the open door over the police radio so other
officers would know a potentially dangerous search was taking place.
The other officers at the scene, former Sgt. Bradley Sriro and current
Sgt. Jason Prigmore, testified that there was no such call.

Prigmore reported the search to internal affairs, prompting an
investigation and leading to the charges against Jacobi and Conger.
Both were originally accused of trespassing, official misconduct,
criminal mischief and falsifying records related to the search.

Singhal acquitted Conger of the non-trespassing charges on Friday
after finding that there was not enough evidence for a reasonable jury
to convict her.

Both officers have been suspended from their jobs without pay pending
the outcome of the cases against them.

Defense lawyers Grossman and Alberto Milian, who represented Conger,
said their clients are good cops who risked their lives to rid a
neighborhood of drugs.

But Schulson said their actions ruined the case against Beldor and
made him a victim.

"The Fourth Amendment applies to everyone, even Beldor," Schulson
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