Behind the Badge

Danny Felton was a decorated cop and local hero. Then drug dealer Marvin Griffin showed up.

A week later Griffin called Felton again, according to Felton's disputed confession. The con man told the cop that a dealer was coming to town in about two weeks with $10,000 to buy cocaine. The out-of-towner planned to arrive May 19, stay at a Days Inn, and finalize the deal at Jumbo's Restaurant on NW Seventh Avenue and 75th Street. "All I had to do was pull him over," the confession states.

On the designated day, Griffin told Felton to watch for a bronze-color 1988 Lincoln with Florida tag KNV00L, according to the confession and a traffic report Felton later completed. Around 5:00 p.m. Felton parked his cruiser near NW Sixth Avenue and 75th Street and waited. Soon the Lincoln pulled into view. "I can't remember what I stopped him for, but after I looked at his paperwork, I think I arrested him for a suspended license or bad tag," states Felton's disputed confession.

With the Lincoln pulled over by the curb, the six-foot, 160-pound driver tried to persuade Felton to release him, according to an arrest report Felton later filed, and to the confession. Felton replied that he wanted to check the man's driver's license and radioed dispatch. "Can I have a [driver's license and criminal history] check on a black male, first name of Dave, Delta-Alpha-Victor-Echo, last name of Williams, common spelling," Felton said, according to a transcript of that radio conversation. "He has a [date of birth] of 6/23/53." The dispatcher discovered several names under that birth date, some of whom had outstanding warrants. She asked if the man met the description listed on the computer. "I'll ... check these warrants," Felton replied, according to the transcript. "Show me en route to the north station with a black male."

The alleged confession describes the subsequent events: Felton parked the Lincoln in a lot at a nearby housing project. Then he drove "Williams" to the station and dropped him off. Afterward, Felton drove to the KFC on NW Seventh Avenue and 74th Street, where Griffin and a couple of men waited in a black van. Felton gave Griffin the keys to the Lincoln "and told him to hurry up because I had to bring them back to the guy," the confession states. The three retrieved the Lincoln; one of Griffin's associates drove it to a spot on the expressway. Felton watched from a distance as they combed through its interior. Then Griffin called Felton's pager -- his signal they had found the money.

Felton received $2000 for his part in the rip-off, according to the internal affairs report. Some of that episode was recorded on FBI videotape.

Sharpstein terms the May 19 events "an FBI setup." He contends that Felton did not take any money from Griffin. "He didn't take money from Marvin; Marvin was soliciting money from him," he says. "Marvin Griffin convinced Danny Felton that he could provide information that could be used in a law enforcement capacity to arrest criminal violators. The relationship was cop-informant."

On April 12, 1995, nearly a year after the alleged $10,000 rip-off from the Lincoln, Danny Felton was driving at NW 23rd Avenue and 183rd Street when Metro-Dade Internal Affairs Sgt. Charlie Triana, the FBI's Buggs, and Miami Police Sgt. Clyde Rimes pulled him over, according to the internal affairs report. Felton was off-duty. The trio hauled him to nearby FBI headquarters and grilled him. That's when he wrote his confession, according to the internal affairs report.

It seems likely the FBI then offered Felton a deal if he cooperated. Neither details nor timing of the offer are clear from documents obtained by New Times.

A horn honks and music plays. It's April 13, the day after Felton's bust, and the soon-to-be ex-cop pulls up to NW Eleventh Avenue and 79th Street wearing an FBI wire. According to a transcript, here's what the agents heard:

"Marvin!" Felton says. Then there's a pause. "Do you know where I can catch him at?"

"He's over at Reba's house. Know where Reba stay at?" someone from the street shouts back.

"On 75th?"
Felton takes off for a house on NW Eleventh Avenue and 75th Street belonging to Reba Jackson. At Jackson's house he rouses Griffin from a nap.

"What's up, man? You asleep?"
"You asleep?"
"Where you been at?" Griffin asks.

"Chillin', man. Shit, you know I got moved, right? I'm in a different spot now," Felton says. "You know I got off patrol? Since the last time on 75th Street? I'm upstairs now."

"You work in the office?" Griffin asks.
"Yeah. Me and my boys, shit, the other day, we did something like that, stopped a guy ..."

Griffin's waking up now. "Yeah?"
"And he had, you know, a couple of blocks [of cocaine] in there ..."

"So, uh, we, like, we got some money and some block, but we ain't turn the shit in. You know, I wanted to know if you wanted to, you know, get rid of this shit."

Then the dealmaking begins. Felton asks Griffin if he can sell six kilograms of cocaine. Griffin offers to sell the drugs for $15,000 per kilogram, which he says is about $3000 less than street value.

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