COVER- JADE junkie: the unlikeliest First Amendment warrior

Elisha Strom says she hates to be photographed, but the mugshot was mandatory.

Love or hate? Similarly ambiguous are Elisha Strom's tattoos: Celtic knots with the word "revolting."
I HeArTE JADE website

White nationalism was an earlier interest of Elisha Strom, and this photo was taken in 2001 at a National Alliance demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington.

An officer Strom dubbed Skoal is surreptitiously photographed.
I HeArTE JADE website

Detective Brian O'Donnell met Strom when he was the investigator on the case against her husband. On I HeArTE JADE, Strom nicknames him "Longhead."
I HeArTE JADE website

Was this map of JADE vehicles during a bust what earned Elisha Strom an obstruction of justice charge?
I HeArTE JADE website

Elisha Strom tails "Spot" and snaps photographs while driving.
I HeArTE JADE website

Lt. Don Campbell talks to the media after a drug bust, which chafes Elisha Strom because she was ordered not to publish identifying photos on her blog.I HeArTE JADE website

Judging by sheer number of television shows dedicated to the genre, Americans are obsessed with cops. Judging by the 221 entries on her blog, Elisha Strom is obsessed with cops.

Now this 34-year-old mother finds herself the unlikely star of her own legal thriller– one that's put her in jail and yet earned support from the American Civil Liberties Union and a Washington Post editorial. Oh, and she's a former white separatist.


Elisha Strom admits she's interested in cops– but not just any cops. The officers who stirred her interest to the extent that she staked them out over eight months, photographing and following them and posting the results on a blog all work in a multi-jurisdictional group called the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement Task Force.

Now she's facing a felony charge as a result of those efforts for publishing the address of an officer on the blog she created called I HeArTE JADE.

Strom argues that her interest in JADE is a hobby, much like others pursue basketball or basket-weaving, and that she's merely an "information junkie" investigating what these cops do to satisfy her own curiosity. 

The 11 men in JADE might disagree.

"It's kind of a scary situation, having someone follow you to your house," says Sergeant Paul Best, who's running for Charlottesville sheriff. "All or a majority of us feel the best result would be [for Strom] to get some sort of psychiatric help."

That didn't happen. Instead, Strom was arrested July 16 and spent a month behind the bars of the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail before a family member posted the $7,500 bond to secure her release. Strom worried that more charges would follow. Her fears proved well founded.

On September 2, she was charged with obstruction of justice in Charlottesville General District Court.

Whether Strom is a citizen watchdog or a delusional stalker will be heard in court. She says she never realized her blog would become a free speech issue or raise a discussion on how the drug war plays out in Charlottesville. 

"I did not consider that at all because it was a silly blog– light-hearted and rambling," she says. "I think JADE is blowing it out of proportion. Now it's a free speech issue."

Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union believes the class six felony under which she's been charged– a Virginia law against publishing officer addresses or photographs with the "intent to coerce, intimidate, or harass"–  is unconstitutional.

She points out that she hasn't been charged with stalking, a class 1 misdemeanor, which Virginia defines as someone one whose conduct appears to puts "a person" in reasonable fear of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury. 

"You can't stalk an occupation," says Strom.

Love or hate?

Strom's interest in JADE stems, she says, from the arrest and conviction of her estranged husband, white separatist Kevin Strom, for one count of child porn possession. He was found not guilty of intimidating a witness— Elisha— and enticement of a minor in October 2007, but pleaded guilty to the kiddie porn charge in January 2008 and served 23 months in jail.

One of the investigators on the Kevin Strom case, Brian O'Donnell, also works on the JADE task force.

"Special thanks to Detective Brian N. O'Donnell of the Charlottesville Police Department," writes Elisha Strom October 25 in the first I HeArTE JADE post. "Had it not been for his advice, this site likely wouldn't exist."

Elisha acknowledges the ambiguity of the name of "I HeArTE JADE" and declines to elaborate further about her interest that compelled her to repeatedly to make the nearly 100-mile, almost two-hour drive from the tiny town of Thaxton in Bedford County where she now lives, to sit outside the JADE headquarters in the Frank Ix building for hours on end.

 "I'm an information junkie," she says. "I think their work is exciting. It's interesting. It's fun."

And, she assures, "I would do this with any kind of subject I'm interested in."

On March 3, she writes, "If you haven't guessed yet, I'm heavily Law Enforcement focused. I'm sure there's a deep pseudo-psychological reason someone can devise for me being this way, but let's not go there."

With the enthusiasm of Nancy Drew, Strom describes putting duct tape on her headlights to disguise them while following JADE officers around at night. She follows them to their houses, and publishes a chart noting the distance they live from the JADE HQ and gives them quirky nicknames like "Porn Star," "Dasani," and  "Boomslang."

She posts pictures of their dogs, as well as of their cars. She describes following them on a bust, and creeping close in to observe the action.

On November 13, 2008, three weeks after the blog goes up, Strom writes that she has been observed taking photographs outside the Ix building by JADE head Lieutenant Don Campbell, and that she gets a phone call from the FBI. 

A month later, she's followed and stopped by the JADE officer she calls "Spot," (and whom Strom thinks is "hot," according to I HeArTE JADE.)

By December 27, Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo meets her at C'Ville Coffee for a chat and a request to knock it off, according to the blog.

"In a nutshell, he said that I was a nuisance to the Task Force and I should back of," writes Strom. "I felt unaffected by his monologue. He pulled out an envelope and told me he'd put what he'd spoken in writing. See? I knew there'd be paperwork! Not as nasty as I'd expected it to be, but not nice either."

Early in 2009, she's told she's not allowed on JADE property, and on January 23 she reports being photographed by task force members, and then stopped when she makes a hasty getaway down a one-way street. 

On Groundhog Day, Strom gets another letter from Chief Longo ordering her to "cease and desist" her surveillance of the task force and warning of criminal prosecution. A trespassing notice follows in May, and all the while Strom continues to document and dog the task force members. 

Her case is turned over to Special Agent Jason Trent with the Virginia State Police, who warns her she faces  charges under state code in §18.2-186.4 after she publishes the home address and photos of one of the JADE detectives.

Her last entry is July 16: "Uh-oh. They're here."

The aftermath of a September 2008 high-speed chase that ends in the arrest of Michael Tomey for illegal gun possession.

Sheriff Chip Harding worked for JADE before it was officially a task force.

JADE's annual report showing arrests and seizures was posted on I HeArTE JADE blog.
PHOTO I HEARTE JADE WEBSITEWhat would become the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement task force got its start in 1987 during the height of the Reagan administration's war on drugs, when Charlottesville had open-air crack cocaine markets, drive-by shootings, and as many as five drug-related murders a year.

"Crack hit hard in the late ‘80s," says Lieutenant Don Campbell, who launched the group with fellow Charlottesville Police officers Bryant Bibb and Chip Harding.

In 1995, the task force was officially mandated, and now 11 members: five from the Charlottesville Police Department, four from Albemarle, one from UVA's police force, and one Virginia State Police member, says Campbell, with the DEA, ATF, and FBI pitching in on investigations. After 2001, the group added anti-terrorism to its mission.

Each jurisdiction pays the salaries of its officers and adds another $6,000 per man— there are no women in JADE— for a total budget of $78,000.

"Everything else is paid for from seized assets," says Campbell, who now heads the unit.

In 2007, the most current report on JADE statistics, the task force made 197 arrests and seized 571 grams of methamphetamine, 19 pounds of marijuana, and 1.79 kilos of cocaine. A September 3 arrest netted seven grams of coke, according to a JADE press release.

"We're not trying to set records," says Campbell. "We're trying to get people off the street."

Campbell also notes that while the group doesn't target marijuana, they'll bring charges when they find it.

Now the sheriff of Albemarle, Harding stopped working on drugs in 1992, but says even after the open air drug markets died out, people from New York and Washington moved in– people who are, says Harding, "less respectful of life."

Critics question the use of precious local resources to fund a national war on drugs that doesn't appear close to victory. Independent City Council candidate Paul Long, for instance, has made repeal of the Harrison Act– which made heroin and cocaine illegal– key to his platform, even though the issue does not fall under City Council jurisdiction.

"I have a problem with police officers specifically fighting drugs rather than crime in general," says Long, a former addiction counselor. "If I was on Council, I'd vote against funding those five officers on JADE."

Long contends the violence associated with drug trafficking is the result of illegality, much like alcohol during Prohibition. "Outlawing alcohol led to the rise of organized crime," he says. "We're seeing that with drug use."

James Curtis, treasurer of the Jefferson Area Libertarians, agrees that drug laws actually breed violence by creating a strong a black market. "If you're trying to reduce drug addiction," says Curtis, "there are more responsible, less expensive ways."

Former Greene deputy sheriff Steve Shifflett says JADE robs departments of vital manpower. "If I had my choice as a taxpayer, I'd put them on patrol," says Shifflett, who calls a JADE assignment "a gravy train type job."

Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo suggests that critics may not have enough information.

"JADE personnel and our federal partners have been instrumental," writes Longo in an email, "in the identification and successful prosecution of many violent offenders in our city that made their living selling drugs, destroying lives, and negatively impacting the quality of life in neighborhoods throughout our region."

Albemarle's Lieutenant Todd Hopwood recalls his own experience as a patrol officer when he assisted JADE in Operation Roasted Chestnut, a 1995 bust of five houses, after months of investigation, in Esmont and Chestnut Grove.

"This was a community that was completely overrun with drugs," says Hopwood. "A patrol officer doesn't have time to build informants and build cases."

JADE's biggest cases bring federal conspiracy charges to shut down violent gangs, such as the RICO charges against PJC, aka Project Crud, a gang of 30 members terrorizing 10th and Page streets whose leader, Antonio Bryant, was sentenced to two life sentences in 2006.

Earlier this year, the free market-oriented Cato Institute looked back approvingly on the experience of Portugal after nearly a decade of decriminalized personal drug use, and even drug warriors like Harding concede the failures of current U.S. drug policy.

"Do I think the war on drugs is effective? No, I don't," says Harding. "Do I think we should we revisit our marijuana laws and look at how legalization has worked in other countries? Yes, I do."

"We know we can't stop drug use and dealing," acknowledges JADE's Campbell. "As long as people want drugs, they'll use them, and as long as they're illegal we'll keep enforcing the law."

But for those who would question the effectiveness of JADE, Campbell offers a reference. "Call the people who live in those neighborhoods when they had shootings and they were begging for help."

But is it illegal?

"This is a classic free speech issue," says Kent Willis, ACLU of Virginia executive director. "Ms. Strom has taken information that's publicly available and put it on a website. A federal court has already struck down as unconstitutional a nearly identical law in Washington."

The ACLU's interest in the case was piqued because in Sheehan v. Gregoire, a Washington state law similar to Virginia's statute was overturned in federal court. 

"Based on the Sheehan case," says Willis, the Virginia law "is probably unconstitutional as written. You can publish information about public officials to goad them to action. It can't contain an actual threat to do physical harm."

Strom insists her purpose in publishing the address, available from public records, is not to harass.

After she's contacted by the FBI, she hints in a November 13 post at having more info on JADE, information she may unleash if pushed.

"I do have enough intelligence to, within the confines of the law, effectually take on what I believe is nothing more than a group of arrogant thugs."

In the same post, she writes, "Will the Federal Bureau of Investigation make good on its threat? Time will tell. The bottom line: Maybe I'll have to do the same." 

Back in August, Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford expressed a willingness to prosecute. Now, she will no longer talk about the case.

Another Virginia law having to do with publication of publicly available information recently went to the the U.S. Supreme Court. Privacy advocate B.J. Ostergren was aggrieved that Virginia public records often include Social Security Numbers. To call attention to the identity-theft threat, she published the SSNs of public officials that she found online.

The General Assembly responded by making it illegal to publish such info, even if it came from government records. In Ostergren v. McDonnell, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional in June.

Strom picked up the obstruction of justice charge for her post about a low-speed chase July 9 in Belmont after which JADE, as part of an undercover sting, arrested two people for cocaine distribution and one gun charge. 

The Daily Progress wrote about the chase, and Strom put up that article July 11, along with a map of JADE vehicles around Belmont Park and photos, presumably of the law enforcement cars, on her blog.

"If I was obstructing justice, why wasn't the Daily Progress charged, too?" asks Strom, who contends she put up her pictures and map after the media had covered the bust. "I'm getting charged after the ACLU says they're representing me."

Charlottesville Commonwealth's Attorney Dave Chapman refuses to comment on the pending case.

"I think they're throwing everything at me they can," declares Strom. "If I was dangerous, they would charge me with stalking. They're just trying to intimidate me. Maybe it's payback. I just don't want to go back to jail. It's not worth it."

Curious kitten

I HeArTE JADE is not Strom's first brush with notoriety. That came with her connection to white supremacist circles through her estranged husband, Kevin Strom, protégé of William Pierce, who wrote The Turner Diaries, the book that inspired domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls her "about as close to a feminist as you can get on the American radical right."

Today Strom winces at that part of her past and tries to distance herself from the white nationalist movement.

"I disagreed with Dr. Pierce on some things," she says, citing Pierce's enchantment with Adolf Hitler. "I didn't think [Hitler] was so wonderful. Dr. Pierce changed his thinking."

It was through Pierce that she met and fell in love with Kevin, she says.

"It's not like I was looking for a neo-Nazi or white separatist," she says. "I wanted someone who wanted a better world."

Elisha Strom says she grew up all over the place. Her father was a "pastor's pastor" who traveled to troubled churches. 

She left home when she was 15.

"I had a boyfriend who worked," she says. "I always wanted to be a wife and mom."

Strom insists she was never a member of the National Alliance, never lived on its compound in West Virginia, and never contributed money to the organization.

"That was my husband's life," says Strom. "I was supporting my husband."

Kevin was ousted from the National Alliance in a 2005 power struggle. The Stroms moved to Greene County, and he formed a new whites-only organization called the National Vanguard. 

After Elisha reported finding him naked and looking at photos of naked females with the heads of girls transposed on them, the two faced off in U.S. District Court.

He charged her with assault when she bashed him on the head with a phone after finding him again looking at little girl pictures, and Elisha maintained the assault allegation was an attempt to intimidate her as a witness. The testimony in court played like a bitter divorce.

Despite Kevin's keen interest in a 10-year-old friend of Elisha's daughter, the enticement of a minor and intimidation charges were thrown out of court in October 2007, and Kevin pleaded guilty to one count of child pornography possession in January 2008, while denying that he was a pedophile.

In court, he also objected to being called a neo-Nazi and white supremacist. Though quite separate, the couple is still legally married, and Kevin lives in Charlottesville.

Readers of Elisha Strom's blog find an intelligent, articulate writer, though at times there's a bit of teen breathiness: "iHeArTEjade has to reiterate Spot is Hot. As. Hell. Especially in these pants."

She did not attend college, and says she just got her GED this past year. And according to the blog, she speed reads 1,010 words per minute with a 93 percent comprehension level.

Strom denies that she compromised JADE activities or informants. "If I followed them to an informant, I'd stay far away." (She also notes that none of the officers go undercover, which Lieutenant Campbell confirms.)

And she scoffs at the notion that JADE officers had fears for their safety from a 100-pound woman with ruby-red hair.

"The one thing I didn't think about and wish I had," reflects Strom, "was their wives and girlfriends and how they'd feel."

Some have suggested that I HeArTE JADE Is the effort of a woman scorned. 

"I've heard that," says Strom. "I believe at one point Chief Longo said I hallucinated a relationship. I'll let it go at that."

Although she does come back to the woman-scorned label to label it "tiresome." 

Did she have a relationship with a JADE officer? Responds Strom, "I wouldn't answer that."

And she maintains that her research on JADE fills a watchdog role. "People should be able to ask what they're doing," she says, "and if they do, they're called stalkers."

The terms of her bond prohibit the computer-savvy Strom from use of a computer and contact with law enforcement officers.

Elisha Strom is scheduled for her own day in court October 1 for both charges– misdemeanor obstruction of justice in Charlottesville General District Court, and felony harassment of cops in Albemarle General District. If convicted on the latter, she faces a mandatory six month jail sentence.

"I thought I wanted to live in a white society," she sighs. "Now I want to live in a nice society."



quote: says Sergeant Paul Best, who's running for Charlottesville sheriff. "All or a majority of us feel the best result would be [for Strom] to get some sort of psychiatric help."

The same dayum thing could be said about a small handful of cops in both Charlottesville and Albemarle County. And I would love to see Chief Longo or Chief Miller deny this. In all fairness though, at least both of the chiefs got rid of at least one loose cannon that was certainly on my list. And my response to this would be "Two down, about a dozen more to go, guys!".

Damn, GSOE, there you go un-redeeming yourself again! Talk about the pot calling the kettle a spade, or however that saying goes...

Could you please just stick to posting links to nekid gurl sites?

Relax, CC. There's a pretty good chance your husband or boyfriend (or whatever) isn't on my short list of corrupt lying cops. Thank God the area in which we live only has about a dozen or so.

uhhmm... I like nekid gurlz. Not 100% proof I'll grant you, but it does suggest that I'm not likely to have a boyfriend or husband.

Debian, just because Strom *infers* on her blog that she had a relationship with one or more officers doesn't make it true. Her credibility is not exactly golden. From a psychological perspective, people with stalker mentalities are notorious for turning wishful thinking into fact.

GSOE, who are the loose cannons to whom you refer?

Having worked with and around cops for over 3 decades, I would never doubt any girl saying she had an affair with a cop. And and a matter of fact, it starts right at the top with the chiefs and sheriffs.

If I told you a married sheriff "dated" a female U S Marshal and got her pregnant, would you believe me? Come to think of it, time sure does fly by! The child must be at least 18 by now!!

What about a married chief having an extramarital affair with another department employee? Would you believe it?

It would take way too long for me to go down the ranks and list all the extra-marital affairs I have witnessed over the last 30 years. And the list would include JADE cops.

Women and girls who are attracted to the badge and gun are called "badge bunnies" and "fender lizards". There's plenty of them out there. They're a free ride for cops (if you know what I mean), both the single cops and the married cops.

Did Strom have an affair with one or more cops? From reading her blog, I would have to bet on YES.

They actually quoted a former Greene County deputy?

Look at this post by Elisha Strom

and decide for yourself whether or not Elisha Strom had a sexual/emotional relationship with an officer who was supplying her with inside JADE information.

And look here and decide if she had a similar relationship with Brian N. O'Donnell, who she says she soured on and who inspired her stalking and blogging:

Her own words.

Once again, just because she says it, doesn't make it so. Newsflash, a lot of married people cheat. So?

Yeah they quoted a former Greene Co deputy sheriff. None other than the Gasbag, aka Sick of the Local Rambos, aka Demopublican, aka a whole bunch of other poster names.

NN, you said "Once again, just because she says it, doesn't make it so. Newsflash, a lot of married people cheat. So?"

I'd say that if she had a sexual affair with Brian O'Donnell, the investigator in the Kevin Strom trial - in which she was the only significant witness - then that whole trial is tainted.

And if Elisha Strom DIDN'T have a sexual connection with him or with "Boomslang" and is just LYING about having that - then THAT ALSO calls her credibility into serious question.

I don't think we need these drug laws or drug cops at all, but I am forced to agree with Paul Best when he says "All or a majority of us feel the best result would be for her to get some sort of psychiatric help."

I think she set up her husband. Her credibility is zero.

What does Steve Shifflett know about real police work? It's apparent that he knows nothing about JADE and the effect that JADE has had on the drug war and violent crime in the City of Charlottesville. Don't be jealous Mr. Shifflett that you couldn't be a real cop.

Add one Yuri and one Debian and it looks like it makes one Kevin Strom. Why would you care about what adults do anyway? From what I've read, these people are a lot older than you are into.

On the simplest drug level, it doesn't take a mental giant to see that 17 specialized cops confiscating 19 pounds of marijuana in a year is a pretty sad statistic. A blind patrolman with a seeing eye dog can stumble across that much pot without even trying.

It also doesn't take a mental giant to realize that an average arrest of 11.58 persons per JADE cop... per year... is a sad statistic as well. 197 arrest by 17 cops in 2007. very sad!!

Batman, if you think you're getting your money's worth out of JADE, so be it! I think they would stumble across more drugs and crime if they were back in patrol cars working a normal shift.

JADE is a gravy train job, IMHO. For the most part, they work banker's hours. They work little to no weekends, because as we all know, drug activity ceases on Fridays after 5:00 p.m. The dealers resume normal transactions on Mondays at 9:00 a.m.

There's as many drugs available in this area as there has ever been. And there is just as much violent crime as well.

Don't have to be a "real cop" to see and understand any of this.

Childish taunts aside, Observer, even those who believe that her former husband is guilty must really regret Elisha Strom's sexual antics, revenge obsession, crazy stalking, and possible lying documented at I Hearte JADE.

All her testimony must now be viewed as questionable. On all subjects.

Dayum! I had to take a second look at that!

197 arrests in 1997 by 17 JADE cops. That's 11.58 arrests per JADE cop in the year 2007. Or..... arrest per month by each JADE cop!!

This makes me wonder when they were actually doing anything, so as to enable Strom to even follow them and document their movements!


above was suppose to read

"197 arrests in 2007 by 17 JADE cops..."

Gasbag, if you look at the article below, you'll see that it evidently took ALL ELEVEN JADE OFFICERS to arrest a single, non-resisting peaceful suspect after he signed for a piece of mail allegedly containing LSD.

Yuri, as per your response- I can't disagree with you.

Just for the record - I already said this on another blog - I don’t think that Brian N. O’Donnell or the Charlottesville Police are saints, either. O’Donnell sent someone to the slammer for YEARS just because he pointed his index finger at O’Donnell and said “pow.” Look here

I mean, this is obviously not a guy whose first interests are truth and justice.

People need to stop automatically believing what cops say. They lie all the time, worse than used car salesmen.

What a pair. Elisha Strom and Brian O'Donnell. Looks like a match made in some other place besides heaven.

because there are a couple of disgraced former Cville cops that ARE used car salesmen!!

A couple of disgraced former Cville cops that ARE used car salesmen???

I know of one who is now a very well paid sales manager at a large local and very successful dealership. I wouldn't classify him as "disgraced" though. He did nothing illegal.

Where do the others work? Perhaps I could get a few good deals on some new cars and trucks.

Kevin, I read the link. The supreme court of Virginia upheld the conviction- I see no problem there. Where do you get years from? That's simply not true, the defendant
got six months. I also read Carlos Miller's blog on this topic and he seems to have some inside information. You seem to have an axe to grind with your wife and law enforcement so I can't put too much stock in your scenarios either.

My question to you Mr. Shifflett is, "Have you ever worked on or with the JADE Task Force? I didn't think so. So how do you even portray that you know anything about the Task Force? Your relying on things that you hear about and then you make presumptions, uneducated presumptions. As for the comments about 197 arrests in a year. If a drug task force takes 197, gun toting drug dealers off of the street in a year I would say that is exceptional. And, you probably won't find another task force in the area with those type of numbers. Let's not forget, while you and others are lying in bed at night, these task force guys are knocking down someone's door and putting themselves in danger for this community. Without the JADE Task Force, violent crimes would be out of control in the City of Charlottesville. You Mr. Shifflett are a scribe and that is why you would never work on a drug task force. You would rather criticize something you have no personal knowledge about whatsoever! Something you probably do know something about is falling asleep!

Sounds like you don't know what you're talking about, but heck, feel free to spice it up as much as you like. Give 'em all a little "attaboy!!" in your silly speeches.

They must not be getting enoughs guns off the street, because gun related robbery in Charlottesville is as high as it's ever been, Einstein. Looks like we might even set a rcord for 2009 according to Charlottesville's own statistics.

Gun related robbery

2002 18
2003 14
2004 12
2005 15
2006 12
2007 20
2008 14
2009 20 (first 8 months of 2009)

Total gun related crimes
2002 44
2003 31
2004 33
2005 39
2006 45
2007 42
2008 36
2009 39 (first 8 months of 2009)

(Albemarle County statistics are no better)

You're a waste of my time. You don't even have the intelligence to know how many more gun crimes there would be without these task force guys. Self ordained expert of statistics is all you'll ever be. I'm signing off.

Yes, pack up your bags and run, Batman. Sorry I had to kick you around the room with actual statistics. If JADE was getting so many guns off the street, we wouldn't be on the way to setting a new record for gun related violence in Charlottesville this year (2009).

A real live drug team at work!

I can't stop laughing!!!

Part 1...

September 21, 2009

With guns drawn and flashlights cutting through darkened rooms, Polk County undercover drug investigators stormed the home of convicted drug dealer Michael Difalco near Lakeland in March.

As investigators searched the home for drugs, some drug task force members found other ways to occupy their time. Within 20 minutes of entering Difalco's house, some of the investigators found a Wii video bowling game and began bowling frame after frame.

While some detectives hauled out evidence such as flat screen televisions and shotguns, others threw strikes, gutter balls and worked on picking up spares.

A Polk County sheriff's detective cataloging evidence repeatedly put down her work and picked up a Wii remote to bowl. When she hit two strikes in a row, she raised her arms above her head, jumping and kicking.

While a female detective lifted a nearby couch looking for evidence, another sheriff's detective focused on pin action.

But detectives with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the Auburndale, Lakeland and Winter Haven police departments did not know that a wireless security camera connected to a computer inside Difalco's home was recording their activity.

The recording obtained by News Channel 8 showed several members of the county's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force entering the house shortly after 8 a.m. According to the search warrant, their mission was to search for drugs, stolen property and the fruits of any illegal drug activity.

The recording obtained by News Channel 8 showed several members of the county's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) task force entering the house shortly after 8 a.m. According to the search warrant, their mission was to search for drugs, stolen property and the fruits of any illegal drug activity.

Now there are questions on how the impromptu bowling tournament might affect the case against Difalco.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd denies it will have any effect.

"That absolutely is not true; that doesn't invalidate the search at all," Judd said. "Now the defendant would like for it to invalidate the search, but unfortunately for him, it won't."

Judd, who watched the video during an interview last week, called the situation an embarrassment.

"I'm not pleased that they played that Wii bowling game," Judd said. The sheriff's office oversees the drug task force. Judd said he initiated an internal administrative investigation of the incident.

"That is not appropriate conduct at a search warrant," he said. "But I am less pleased with the supervision that didn't walk in and say, turn that off. That's what supervision should have done."


Part 2....

Task force members played the video game at various times during the day, for a total of a little over an hour of playing time. The competition proved to be quite competitive at times. A task force supervisor from the Lakeland Police Department, gun at his side, pumped his fist after picking up a strike on the first ball he threw. The video showed he continued bowling frame after frame, competing with another undercover detective.

"Obviously, this is not the kind of behavior we condone," Lakeland Police Chief Roger Boatner said. "There was a lot of down time, but that does not excuse the fact that we should act as the consummate professionals."

"Certainly this was a case of bad judgment," Auburndale Police Chief Nolan McLeod said. "We will handle it appropriately."

Winter Haven police Sgt. Brad Coleman said Chief E.C. Waters had not viewed the video. "If there is any indication that someone did something inappropriately, we will do something about it," Coleman said.

Court records show detectives placed Difalco's home under surveillance as far back as December 2008.

"We knew he had weapons," Judd said. "He's a bad guy."

His history includes an extensive arrest record dating back to 1995. Difalco, 43, served three years in state prison from 2002 to 2005 for trafficking drugs, owning and operating a chop shop, and grand theft.

In what Judd called "brilliant police work," the task force placed Difalco under surveillance and took him into custody, away from his home and weapons, during the early morning hours of March 6, in the parking lot of a Circle K convenience store on Highway 98.

Documents filed with the court say, in the March raid, detectives removed methamphetamine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, weapons and more than $30,000 in stolen property.

The 11 charges against Difalco include trafficking methamphetamine, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and operating a chop shop.

According to sheriff's office records, 13 detectives and three sergeants spent nine hours searching Difalco's property, for drugs, stolen property and signs of any illegal drug activity.

The raid cost taxpayers more than $4,000.

Judd, Boatner and McLeod agree the bowling was inappropriate. But they challenge the notion that taxpayer dollars were wasted.

"It was an expansive scene, a lot of searching to be done, a lot of waiting," Boatner said.

"The nature of a search warrant is hurry up and wait," Judd said. "Am I trying to defend the fact that they were bowling, not at all. That was inappropriate."

Not just inappropriate, but Tampa defense attorney Rick Escobar would argue the moment detectives turned on that video game and effectively seized it, they turned the search warrant into an illegal search.


Part 3....

"I've never seen anything like this," Escobar said after he viewed some of the video. Escobar does not represent Difalco and has no connection to the case.

"All the citizens are thinking, 'Wait a minute, we are paying these people to go out and protect us and here they are playing bowling on our time,' " he said.

"The real question here is have they seized property that wasn't described in the search warrant?" Escobar asked. "Clearly if they're using it, they've seized it and for totally improper purposes, because it's for entertainment. Investigations are not for entertainment."

Difalco's attorney declined comment.

Chip Tulberry, a spokesperson for the Polk County State Attorney, declined to comment on the video, or the validity of the search warrant.

"That's a discussion that will occur in court," he said.


quote: "Her credibility is zero."

Let's take a serious look at cop credibility. In a public forum, while whining about police chiefs being able to track their troops, one cop teaches other cops how to lie.

"...I don't know how y'alls computers are set up, but if you undock ours, it disables the GPS. The air card is constantly searching for a signal so if something were to be said, all we have to say is our air card was down for a bit until we rebooted."


Did someone on this page, I won't mention any names (Gasbag self ordained expert), fall asleep while working for a sheriff's department and lose his job? Gee, now that's a true public servant. I wonder how much this guy was doing for the community while he was counting sheep? Batman is right, you are a scribe! One who writes but has never actually done.

HaHaHa! Another person who believes everything they read in official cop press releases.

The truth of the matter was suspended for an ALLEGATION of falling asleep. He was then "fired" for filing a grievance complaint concerning the wrongful suspension. He had already previously won two grievance complaints, so it seems that perhaps the sheriff at the time was afraid of losing a third. The sheriff used his state given right to hire and fire at will, at any time, with or without cause.

It's sorta like two kids playing ball one day. They get into an argument, so one of the kids takes his bat and ball and goes home so as to win the argument.

You're welcome! Next time you need the truth, please look me up. OK?

Here's the kind of cop JADE needs to be taking a serious look for:

September 24, 2009

WESTON, Missouri -- A Weston police officer was arrested by Kansas Bureau of Investigation Tuesday for allegedly selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school in Atchison, Kan.

Kyle A. Zumbrunn, 26, was arrested after he sold a drugs to a KBI undercover agent. The sale came within 1,000 feet of a school and police said Zumbrunn, who lives in Atchison, used his phone to help make the sale.

Some in Weston said they are shocked that someone they trust as a police officer was breaking the law.

One woman, who did not want to reveal her identity, said she couldn't believe the arrest. She said almost everyone knows each other in the small Missouri town.

Details of the case are not being released, because KBI and Atchison police said the investigation is still ongoing. The city attorney of Weston refused to release information that is public record on how long Zumbrunn has been on the police force and whether or not he is still on the payroll.

Zumbrunn has been released from custody. He is due back in court on Oct. 2.

More interesting JADE type stuff....

LAPD drug enforcement officers charged with perjury

October 7, 2009

Three Los Angeles police officers were charged with perjury and conspiracy Tuesday for allegedly lying under oath in a drug-possession case that was dismissed last year when a videotape sharply contradicted their testimony.

The felony charges mark the most serious allegations of police perjury in Los Angeles since the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart scandal about a decade ago.

Prosecutors allege in court documents that two officers falsely testified during the trial that they saw a suspect throw an object that split open to reveal crack and powder cocaine. They said they immediately recovered the drugs. A third officer is accused of falsely claiming in an earlier court hearing that he did not help his two colleagues search for the drugs.

The drug trial ended dramatically when a defense attorney produced grainy surveillance video of the area shortly after the arrest took place. The quality of the tape, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, is poor but shows a group of officers searching for more than 20 minutes before one announces that drugs have been found.

It is difficult to hear what is being said, but at one point an officer seems to make a reference to the arrest report that needed to be filled out.

"Be creative in your writing," the officer appears to tell another after the drugs are found.

"Oh yeah, don't worry, sin duda [no doubt]," is the reply.

After viewing the video, a judge took the unusual step of declaring the defendant to be "factually innocent."

"This is very, very disturbing," said John Mack, president of the L.A. Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the department. "We expect LAPD officers to possess the highest integrity and certainly we expect them to be truthful. This is frankly a black mark."



There's a major new wrinkle in the Elisha Strom case, courtesy of herself:

This really isn't news. Almost every cop I have ever known has run around on their girlfriend or spouse at one time or another. It comes with the territory, the badge and gun attracts women, it's that simple!

The most notable was a high ranking local cop who left his wife (while she was fighting cancer), and had a baby with a female U S Marshal during the affair.

The second most notable was when a now deceased Virginia State Police trooper had to respond to a high ranking cop's home when his wife came home and caught him with a fellow employee.

In other words, the behavior starts right at the top.

They changed the url - try this instead:

Apparently she's been arrested yet again, this time for violating her court order:

I would be surprised if anybody with an IQ over 56 didn't see this coming. The cop shoppes knows she will roll over, play dead and enter a plea of guilty. Any by doing so, they will shut her web site down.

It will be interesting to see which section of the court order she violated.