On Tuesday September 2nd, the Circuit Court in Osceola county threw out 7 cases of grand theft in a sting operation from April 1. Read more here.
The Osceola Sheriff’s office set up a purse with $350.00 visible and left it alone waiting for someone to “take the bait”. Those who took the money and/or contents in the purse were later arrested. Attorney Don Waggoner, represented the seven defendants, pro bono. Judge Jon Morgan noted that the police did not know of the suspects or their propensity to crime, and most of them were homeless or had low income jobs. This is important to show they were not subjects of any other investigation and they were enticed by law enforcement to commit a crime.
I have personally seen this type of investigation in Broward County. Sheriff’s office deputies were filing duffel bags at the airport bus benches and waited for folks to pick it up. In addition, and more notable, the DEA, ATF, and local jurisdictions over the last three years have been conducting Operation Smoking Gun. Watch the video here. In these operations, a fake store is set up by law enforcement. In these stores, undercover officers sell bootlegged clothing, cigarettes, adult videos, and other wares. Their hope is that those who are interested in low cost goods might have criminal histories and may want to sell them guns or drugs.
I am all for getting crime off the street, but these stories all have a similar pattern. Law enforcement is creating crime to stop crime. What does the public get from having homeless men arrested for taking something that doesn’t belong to anyone? What good does it do for DEA to set up an illegal shop for one year to sell stolen merchandise to people and create a beehive of criminal activity just to get a few guns off the street? This type of policing creates crime with no benefit to anyone.
I am glad that fellow FACDL attorney Don Waggoner stepped up to the plate and got those cases dismissed. This might stop law enforcement from setting up crime, to actually stopping crime.