Florida Cop Dresses as Electric Company Worker to Snoop For Pot Without Warrant

Categories: Crime
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Florida cops, it seems, will do just about anything to find that marijuana plant growing in your closet. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide whether Miami police violated the Constitution by routinely sniffing around suspected grow houses with drug-smelling dogs without first getting a search warrant.

In Tampa, meanwhile, police are dealing with backlash this morning after admitting in court they used a list of questionable tactics in pot busts, including dressing up as electric company workers to get into houses and spying on customers at a hydroponics shop using a hidden camera -- all without warrants.

The revelations came during a hearing with an attorney representing a number of people arrested on marijuana charges in Pinellas County.

A detective named Paul Giovannoni admitted that he'd approached one man's house wearing a Progress Energy shirt and let a homeowner take him around into the house's backyard believing he was there to check the meters.

Giovannoni had no warrant or probable cause to search the house, he admitted, but said "it was just a ruse ... to see if I smelled marijuana."

The Pinellas Sheriffs recently suspended another detective after the Tampa Bay Times revealed the force had secretly placed a video camera outside a hydroponics shop in Largo, Florida, and used the footage to track the store's customers.

The county's sheriff, Bob Gualtieri, tells the Times he's "appalled" by such tactics and promised to institute a new rule that cops can't wear other companies uniforms to get into houses without a warrant.

What, exactly, does it say about Florida cops' knowledge of basic civil liberties if you need to make it clear that posing as an electric man to test your hunch that a house has pot inside is a no-no?

"That's obviously an illegal tactic to pretend that you work for Progress Energy to get on someone's property," Bruce Jacob, a Stetson University law professor, tells the Times.

In another civil rights-bending pot case, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Jan. 7 to review a Miami case called Florida v. Jardines.

A Miami-Dade police team in 2006 used a drug-sniffing dog at a house belonging to Joelis Jardines. The cops only "evidence" that Jardines' place was a grow house was that his air conditioner was running non-stop.

Jardines was arrested after the dog smelled pot and police busted in. The Florida Supreme Court sided with Jardines that police should have gotten a warrant before letting their dog loose on his property; the Supremes haven't set a date yet to hear the case.

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13 comments
Bobsburgers
Bobsburgers

if buying marijuana from drug dealers supports terrorism you would think they would support growing it for yourself

garage equipment
garage equipment

Nice move by the authorities. That's what cops do, they always have the power to sense something unusual.

Onewldindian
Onewldindian

The cops should do all they can to stop illegal pot grown in the local. That way we can ensure that the Mexican Cartels can make their profits unhindered by local home grown suppliers!

Ebon
Ebon

People using their own power of law enforcement is a tale as old as time.  Personally, I think the most interesting part of this article is that the Jardines family was shafted thanks to running their air-conditioner non-stop (in Florida, no less--it's always humid there) and it took them SIX YEARS to have their case make it to the supreme court and they STILL don't have a definite date.But then again, they can't be bothered with trifling matters like this when they have more important things, such as random holds on debating, voting on whether to debate an issue, and spontaneous vacationing to list but a few actions, to do.

Jared Williams
Jared Williams

Makes the companies they are pretending to "represent" look bad.  And that business owner of the hydro store must feel good knowing his customers won't want to shop there anymore. Future lawsuit, cops are fucking up more and more in the advent of technology.  Which really means, they've been breaking the law to enforce the law forever...they are just getting caught red handed now and being demoralized and publicly defamed thanks to the wonderful internet.  No wonder why they want to censor the internet too. LOL.  Pigs is becoming an even better fitting name than it ever was.

Hitler
Hitler

Cannabis is a crime :D WOW, I am surrounded by people who sin in ways that I dare not to repeat, but lighting a spliff of some great Marijuana that was properly grown, dried, and cured is a crime. The only real shame these days is that Marijuana is not grown, dried, and cured properly so that people do not get anywhere near the real Iray that it can offer to the soul who is entering the circle it offers. That is one reason that people turn to harder drugs in the first place, the weed these days is garbage unless you know how to properly care for it and what strains "ribbons" you are going to use to get which effects you want. Anything from Ecstasy to Heroin right in Mary that is very difficult to grow really properly anyway, but it is illegal, so people are shut to getting the quickest and most effective results. This is a sad system surrounded by dirty mirrors which are staying clouded, because we are taught that anything that causes war is bad "not a lie", but it does not have to be that way. There is a way to find forgiveness and enter back into Christ. I am very upset with the current affairs of our world. I hope and pray that we can forgive ourselves for our sin that we have created here on planet earth before it is all gone and and "there will be nothing left for some generation of our Kin down the line of life". Cannabis is not a crime. In fact is a great way to burn the Sin and leave it behind us and let it go back into the "Circle de Muerto" where it belongs. True, we should leave those musty buds behind for some time when the "lessons" are filled for that part of our life. Sometimes it is a matter of leaving the people who one has been smoking away the sin in their life, where it is no longer about learning about one's self and only a way of tranquilizing the pain. Cannabis should be regulated and taxed so that we have a better idea of what exactly we are even dealing with here. It is not going to increase the use, in fact it most likely will decrease the use, because people will not feel like a Sin and will respect the "Good Earth" the way it should be. PEACE

rex
rex

tfdddddd

yungmow
yungmow

Sounds to me like they might jsut be onto something dude.Total-Privacy dot US

ActRight
ActRight

I'm sure the guys who actually are electric company workers love this, now citizens are just going to treat them like they are out to find issues with the property.   Next up, the permits dept will be snooping around my backyard.   Totally illegal and disgraceful.

MillionsOfDeadCops
MillionsOfDeadCops

"To protect and serve"... or to go to your house looking for some weed, because marihuana use is such a violent crime! 

Csamj
Csamj

/To protect and to snoop.  They need to legalize everything which would then put all of these corrupt criminals out of business and our country could sure use the tax money that we would reap by taxing the sales of drugs!!  By the way,  over 100,000 people are killed every year by "legal" "prescription drugs" that the Nazi's at the FDA have approved.  There is a nice warm place in hell for those fools. 

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