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10/25/2007

News

29 EMBARRASSING YEARS
An MBI timeline

 

Dec. 1978:

The Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation is formed as a multi-agency task force focusing on narcotics and vice. Member agencies include the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department, the State Attorney’s Office, the FBI and U.S. Customs.

1981:

The MBI arrests 10 men on charges of running a football gambling ring, but much of the evidence is thrown out because of an MBI screw-up; a judge had granted the MBI permission to tap one phone as part of the investigation, but the MBI tapped two. No one goes to jail.

1983:

MBI infiltrates a nuclear protest group of teachers and religious leaders, finds nothing.

May 1984:

A teenage prostitute working as an MBI informant sets up a client who sold her an ounce of cocaine, but a judge tosses the charges after ruling that she had entrapped him with free sex the night before. The teenager tells the Sentinel the MBI used her only to bust small-time dealers.

1984:

The MBI petitions a judge to release Outlaw motorcycle gang member and drug dealer Robert “Bad Bob” Bennett early from a 20-year prison sentence to help them nab small-time dealers.

Sept. 1985:

A judge throws out drug charges against five defendants busted by the MBI because the agency demanded “productivity” from a jailed informant in return for lessening his sentence. The judge says the deal led the MBI to “manufacture rather than detect crime.”

1986:

MBI director Dennis Dayle steps down. The Sentinel reports that during his two-year tenure the agency “failed to obtain any major results” from drug investigations.

1987:

Jerry Cooper, owner of Jerry’s General Store, is arrested for selling adult material. The charges are later dropped.

1988:

An Orange County circuit judge accuses MBI agents of lying and covering up an informant’s burglary to get evidence for a huge pot bust, which is ruined by the agency’s actions.

Jan. 1988:

The MBI videotapes gay prostitutes having sex, but can’t bring a case because, in Lutz’ words, the evidence “had no jury appeal and was traumatic for agents to sit through.”

1994:

MBI investigates Valentine’s Escort Service under the claim that it is a front for prostitution. The agency loses at trial in 2003.

July 2000:

The MBI raids two Rachel’s clubs within its jurisdiction. As is MBI practice, the media is alerted ahead of time so cameras can be stationed outside. Thirty Rachel’s employees are arrested; only one serves prison time.

Dec. 2001:

MBI agents raid Cleo’s strip club on South Orange Blossom Trail based on the sketchy testimony of a 21-year-old stripper who sold cocaine to undercover MBI agents.

Nov. 2002:

Two days before Thanksgiving, agents arrest three women at Jerry’s General Store. The women, one of whom was 75 years old, are charged with distributing obscenity and racketeering, and are hit with bonds of $50,000 each, a figure 25 to 50 times higher than that typically assessed burglars or car thieves. The charges are later thrown out by a judge. One of the three women eventually pleads guilty to not paying $3,000 in sales tax.

Aug. 2003:

MBI tries to get Cleo’s closed, based on testimony from a stripper who says the agency pressured her to make things up. The effort fails.

Nov. 2004:

In November 2004, agents arrest 52 employees and patrons of Cleo’s on charges ranging from public nudity to drug dealing. Most get off with minor infractions. Cleo’s remains open today. The MBI spent $27,562 on the operation.

Sept. 2005:

Orlando Weekly first reports on the Cleo’s investigation Sept. 22, 2005. According to media reports, the agency initiated Operation Weekly Shame two years ago, which would date it to October 2005.

Feb. 2007:

MBI agent Paul Winsett takes pictures of his penis on an MBI-issued cell phone and sends it to two different women with whom he is involved. One reports him to internal affairs.

Oct. 2007:

MBI arrests Weekly classified ad director Jarrell “Brian” Martin and account executives Katherine Miller and Christopher Whiting, and charges the paper with racketeering, a legal move that apparently has never been tried against a newspaper before.

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