POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) — Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Eduardo Mesa is accused of stealing prescription drugs from a man who committed suicide. The girlfriend of that man, Billy Martin, said she is relieved Mesa has been arrested.
Kathy Gibbs spoke on Wednesday evening of Martin, her longtime friend and fiance.
“There’s nothing that wouldn’t have done for anybody. Kind, caring, protective,” she said, describing him. “Just a good father, a good mate, a good friend.”
Gibbs said Martin was working to establish a new life in Florida and the handyman had recently gotten a new job. However, she said, Martin suffered emotional and physical pain.
“He had a lot of internal pain and he couldn’t get through it,” she told CBS4’s Carey Codd.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office said last January 7th, Martin committed suicide when he was hit by a train in Pompano Beach. An incident report shows investigators determined Martin suffered from “depression, alcoholism and prescription drug abuse.”
What happened after Martin’s suicide, landed Mesa in jail and left Gibbs and Martin’s family devastated. BSO says Mesa stole prescription drugs from Martin and threw Martin’s personal and private possessions — contained in two suitcases — into a dumpster. Those items — precious to Gibbs and Martin’s family — have never been found. Gibbs says Mesa showed no regard for Martin.
“Clearly (Mesa) didn’t have morals, feelings, in my opinion,” she said. “His character was shocking in a 17-year officer. He had no care for human life, dead or alive.”
BSO said they found pills and a pill bottle belonging to Billy Martin in Mesa’s patrol car — 6 months after Martin’s death.
In court Wednesday, Mesa’s wife and attorney begged a judge to release the road patrol deputy on bond. Judge John Hurley did agree to lower Mesa’s bond to $75,000. Mesa is expected back in court Thursday morning for a hearing to make sure all the conditions of his expected release are met.
During the court hearing, Mesa’s lawyer, Tony Alfero, questioned the charges.
“I think it’s really hard pressed to prove a corrupt intent when the pill bottle is sitting in the car 7 months after the offense — or the alleged offense back then,” Alfero told the judge. “If he intended to do something wrong with it obviously it wouldn’t be in a police car.”
But Kathy Gibbs sees this differently. She says Mesa deprived Billy Martin of his dignity.
“I’m relieved that he’s been arrested and it gives me a smudge of hope in the justice system that he won’t be able to do this to anybody else,” she said.
During an interview on Tuesday, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel says Mesa dishonored himself and the agency.
“Deputy Mesa tarnished the badge and it’s a tough day for a sheriff or anyone in law enforcement,” Israel told CBS 4 News.
Israel says detectives became suspicious about Mesa’s actions after Martin’s death.
“They noticed that Deputy Mesa’s report had not been turned in, which is unacceptable,” Israel said.
Then, Israel said, investigators found that evidence from the scene– specifically Martin’s Hydrocodone pills — were never turned in to the evidence room. Months later, deputies searched Mesa’s car and found “…the same Hydrocodone stolen from the scene was still in the defendant’s possession approximately 6 months later,” according to the arrest affidavit.
BSO says the bottle found in Mesa’s car had Martin’s name on it.
The arrest report says…”(T)he fact that (Mesa) intentionally omitted the Hydrocodone from several other non-narcotic medications that were submitted to the Crime Lab further shows criminal intent.”
Investigators say they found other pills in Mesa’s patrol car hidden in a vitamin bottle. Detectives also say that after Martin died, Mesa told investigators that he threw the man’s belongings in a dumpster.
As for the armed trafficking charge, Sheriff Israel says the amount of drugs Mesa had in his car met a certain threshold and that he was armed when he took the pills.
“When you commit a felony and you’re carrying a firearm, as I’ve said, many, many times, we’re not above the law,” Israel said. “We’re right there with everybody else.”
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