Officer Brian Arlotta sat down with her and asked about the abuse complaint. After they spoke, Arlotta told her there were others who wanted to speak with her. In walked Capt. Kevin Coppin, who supervised the Western Division of the department, and Janice LeClainche, the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Phillips.

The CI recognized Coppin; he sometimes showed up to pay her for information. But she hadn't met LeClainche. It was rare for a federal prosecutor to be at the police station late on a Friday night, and the CI figured this was about something more serious than her abuse complaint.

Coppin told her there was a problem with a case the CI had worked on. Her name had been accidentally revealed in the court papers; LeClainche had forgotten to redact her name from an exhibit she filed. This could put the CI in danger. Coppin told her Elroy Phillips could be after her.

Elroy Phillips was known as "Eighty-Six" on the streets of Miami. In prison he's now known as "Law."
Eric Barton
Elroy Phillips was known as "Eighty-Six" on the streets of Miami. In prison he's now known as "Law."
Private investigator Ralph Marston helped Phillips dig up documents and scored a key interview with the government’s lone witness.
Michael McElroy
Private investigator Ralph Marston helped Phillips dig up documents and scored a key interview with the government’s lone witness.

The CI said there must be a misunderstanding. She said she had known Phillips for years and had never bought drugs from him. "He's my homeboy," she said.

LeClainche handed the CI a copy of the police report Ghent wrote, the one that had mysteriously materialized at trial. In the report, the CI was named as the witness of the drug buy. She hadn't testified at Phillips's trial, and the CI claimed this was the first she had heard about the case. Coppin told her that several officers had been there that night and would testify that she was involved. Again, she denied it.

Later that night, the CI called Phillips's sister Yvelle. The CI's name had been revealed in the court papers, but it didn't identify her by her street name. Yvelle and the CI had been close friends and even watched each other's kids.

"Look," the CI told Yvelle, "I didn't snitch."

Yvelle passed along the CI's name to her brother, who asked Marston to interview her. The private detective had the CI come to his office two days later. Marston recorded the conversation and then had the CI sign a declaration — a legally binding document that could hold enough weight to refute the evidence that put Phillips away.

In the declaration, she claims LeClainche and Coppin threatened to take her children away if she didn't help. She claims the prosecutor even offered her cash to testify she had been the witness that night.

"Name your price," she claims the prosecutor told her.

It was no wonder that Ghent had used her as a bogus witness for his fabricated drug deal, the CI told Marston. She had been having sex with Ghent, she said. She claimed she lived with him and that he had a side business selling drugs. She helped him deal crack in the neighborhood, and he even lent her his service weapon when she went on runs to drop off packages of drugs to low-level dealers.

The whole story might have seemed preposterous — if not for Ghent's history.

Officer Michael Ghent walked into the Relax With Us massage parlor for the first time in October about ten years ago. According to court documents, Ghent gave his undercover name, Mike Malik, and pretended to be a pro football player with a leg injury. He asked to meet with some of the girls.

Over the next few months, Ghent returned regularly for massages. Both Ghent and the girls would get naked first, and then they'd end the massage by masturbating him, sometimes with the girl straddling him.

Eventually, Ghent told Relax With Us owner Bernadette Lesueur that he was an undercover cop. He demanded weekly protection money to keep the parlor from getting busted, according to the documents. Lesueur agreed, but over the next few years, Ghent's demands increased and sometimes became more frequent.

In 2005, he called Lesueur to ask for a $10,000 loan to help him buy a house. She didn't have that much money, but she agreed to give him $5,000. Lesueur would later give him another $4,000, which she believed he was going to invest for her in Iraqi dinars.

He hadn't paid the money back as of May 2006, when he called Lesueur and asked her and her husband to come to his home. After they arrived, Ghent told the couple that he was being followed. He asked if they were wearing a wire and told them to deny it if someone asked about the loan. When they asked about the money, Ghent responded, "My ex-wife kept the house. Get the money from her."

By January 2007, Lesueur had had enough and complained about Ghent to the FBI. The FBI called the West Palm Beach Police Department, which sent Sgt. Patrick Flannery to question Lesueur. Flannery looked deeper into Ghent and found he was having Lesueur's son-in-law buy drugs for him, according to documents.

He also discovered that Ghent had doctored police department paperwork to obtain low-income housing at the Malibu Bay Apartments. Ghent had gotten his supervisor to sign a blank form and later filled it out with false information to claim he was making less than $30,000, which would qualify him. He was actually making at least $57,000. Ghent had told the manager of the apartment complex that he was on "super undercover" status and agreed to help rid her of drug dealers who lived there if given a break on the rent. The manager agreed to cut the rent by $100 a month, but Ghent never kicked out the dealers.

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9 comments
P_Nis
P_Nis

Unfortunately police and prosecutorial misconduct is rampant throughout our justice system. Cornell West says "Justice is what love looks like in public". Considering what we've seen in this case and in many other similar cases, that's a pretty sick thought isn't it?

john
john

Beyond a 'reasonable doubt'. It's easy for love-boat to talk with such callousness, as one enjoys' their freedom and privileges. Reverse rolls, and let's see how cavalier they are. Corruption, cover-up, lack of integrity and criminal conduct by the prosecutor and police is not uncommon in our judicial system. I've been involved with the Innocence Projects, and unfortunately there are many, very innocent, individuals in prison. Innocent people have been murdered by the government for crimes that they had no part in. This is a Truth, which reflects poorly upon us. Hopefully we are evolving into a more compassionate society; it appears that love-boat needs to put a little more love in that boat; and a little less contemptuousness. Great story Eric. I'm just coming off of a victory against the Florida Department of Corrections. The DOC charged an inmate with committing 3 crimes, that each had a life sentence. He was 300 yards away from the alleged crime scene, when this offense supposedly occurred. This innocent inmate was thrown into solitary confinement and isolated on the notorious Q-Wing at Florida State Prison, confined with murderers, psychopaths and the criminally insane for 3 years, for crimes that he had no involvement with. We won our case and I believe Elroy Phillips will win his case. Mr. Phillips is a rich man now; he will be a wealthy man upon his release.

loveboat2010
loveboat2010

Both phillips and the dirty cop should be sitting together in a cell. I dont think either one is innocent. Drug dealers ruin communities and attempt to paint this robin hood character.The dealer in this story admitted he did not do street level sales he delt with Colombians, which means he brought trafficking amounts of drugs into the inner city. To say he quit that life to do landscaping is BS. Although, there is a small percentage of corruption I dont think this story portrays the people that risk there lives everyday in extremely violent drug land of south florida. You have to be an idiot to be a corrupt cop eventually, you are caught or turned in by a real criminal.

Amber Phillips
Amber Phillips

My name is Amber Phillips & Elroy Phillips is my father, your comment is ignorant and narrow minded my father does not deny his wrong doings but he has served 10 years in prison for a crime that he did not commit. I have not seen my father since i was 8 years old I am now attending college on a full 4 year scholarship and my father from behind bars has been there every step of the way a decade is an extreme sentence for the alleged charges, and drug dealers do not ruin communities but the addicts themselves do. Drug abuse is a self detrimental crime if they didn't get the drugs from my father they would get it from someone else so do not blame him but blame the people who seek out drug and the dealers.

The Pulp Blog
The Pulp Blog

You have a good point, loveboat2010. Maybe he was still a dealer and, the logic goes, deserves his fate. But the justice system simply can't work that way. The cops are supposed to have the evidence to convict you, and when they fabricate evidence, as they may have done here, you ought to be set free.

loveboat2010
loveboat2010

Your right Eric, my point is I dont feel sorry for either one of them. I grew up in the inner city and I know first hand how this life of a drug trafficker is glorified by the media. He chose to live a criminal life, you "live by the sword" and there is a price you pay for that, Karma. Drug dealers live by a "stop snitching" rule which makes the drug industry thrive with violence that plagues communities. On the other hand we have become a society that believes CSI Miami is real life you simply send a hair sample to washington and the facts of any case are revealed. This same menatlity set Casey Anthony free. It is the law to look at the totality of the circumstances. This idiot may be innocent because of a crooked cop but he is not innocent for the life he chose and the harm he has caused hundreds of people that suffer from addictions, not to mention the families he has ruined. Therefore, this attempt to portray a story of poor inncoent man can get to the back of the line of the millions who suffer from addiction and violent crime at the hands of drug dealers. I know one thing growing up in overtown I didnt worry about violence from a police officer but my family did suffer crimes at the hands of local criminals who will do anything for a buck. Guys like this that have a long rap sheets know how to manipulate the system and people who wil read and believe this criminals story.

Lucky Lieberman
Lucky Lieberman

loveboat2010, only a person of ignorance, who has no respect for the democracy of America woukd write such a cold, distorted and hateful comment. Your actions put you in the same category as the arresting police officer and the assistant U.S. Attorney in this case. They are the real criminals.

Lucky in South Beach

ivxx
ivxx

I get it, we should focus on 1 strike and your out then. If you get a speeding ticket, revoke your license.

Obviously this man made mistakes and he's paid for them. Hell those mistakes contributed to the image that the judge and jury saw when he sat in that court room.

"Oh lord, another wanna be gangsta drug dealer."

The difference is this man made his mistakes and moved on, then was dragged into this because god forbid someone make a legit living and live in the ghetto. Do you still live in Overtown? I bet you shot out of there like a bat out of hell once you got some money.

Whether he made bad decisions in his life is irrelevant, this man has been railroaded into the prison system. For you to sit there and insinuate that he deserves this because he "worked with Colombians" is ridiculous.

loveboat2010
loveboat2010

Let me get this straight, I write a comment on The New Times expressing my opinion as provided by the constitution and you are putting me in the same category as a corrupt cop and notorious drug trafficker? wow, you have gone a little above ignorance and into dumb ass category. Put down the bong and admiration for street life which you know nothing about. I grew up in Overtown, I never sold or aquinted myself with drug dealers which thanks to hardwork and drive I have a beautiful family and legal career. You my friend watch MTV and think these rappers actually care about community and live the life they portray. Glorifying the life of a drug trafficker has ruined many cultures and lost youths. When you live in such despair all you know is cold and straight facts. STop watching tv and walk these neighborhoods for yourself.

 
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