How They Nabbed the Nickel Bag Felon

Sixty-three-year-old Miami Beach gadfly Stanley K. Shapiro might seem an unlikely enemy, but war is war

"So there's a direct link between Shapiro's conduct and what the law's aiming at," concludes David I. Gilbert, a supervisor in the state attorney's major crimes division.

"I never sold to any minors," Shapiro insists. "They wouldn't even let those kids into my building. I live on the fifth floor and we've got TV cameras to monitor who comes and goes." Both sales to Redruello, he adds, took place at night, long after school hours. What's more, students at South Beach Alternative are not allowed off campus during school hours, a policy enforced by a fence and security guards.

And curiously, although Stephen Millan admits his plea offer relied in part on assertions that Shapiro sold to students, the allegation was never raised in court. Even more curiously, none of the three officers Shook questioned said anything about Shapiro's alleged dealing to children. In fact, all three sounded genuinely vague about details when it came to the "street source" who led them to Shapiro.

"All I know is that I came into work one day. And they were there," Redruello recalls in her November 18 deposition. "[They said] 'Hey, we've got information.'" Specifically, the source told her "that Shapiro was selling marijuana from his apartment and would sell to anybody that they would bring." (Redruello did not return several messages requesting comment for this story. A second undercover officer, who requested anonymity, would say only that "we found out about the case by a confidential informant.")

Shapiro says he should have had the opportunity to dispute these "hidden claims" during an April 14 hearing on his motion to dismiss the charges or during the sentencing conference in Judge Margolius's chambers. Millan counters that the subject was never broached in open court because Shook objected before police could begin discussing how they initiated their probe. "The defendant was never penalized for this allegation," Millan stresses.

All sides agree that Margolius was benevolent in sentencing the defendant to only fifteen days. And despite some initial fear and trembling, Shapiro, a former hotel manager who moved from Manhattan to Miami Beach in 1977 after being mugged three times, withstood his punishment valiantly.

Ever the schmoozer, he even managed to squeeze in a bit of networking. "Everybody was cool," he reported midway through his stint. "I made friends with a guy who stole $15,000 from a judge. There's one guy here who's dad owned the restaurant at the Cadillac Hotel on 40th and Collins." Later Shapiro called with an update: "I just met a guy who's here for attempted first-degree murder! His name's Benny. He was on TV earlier this week."

Stooped by the rigors of incarceration, the ex-con does concede that the hours of contemplation afforded by life behind bars left him with a broader perspective on the human condition and a renewed commitment to the political process. "I paid my dues to society. It's time to start my life anew," he confided. "So, where you gonna party tonight? " Thus began his slow march toward an uncertain fate.

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