|Published:||May 21, 2010 12:05 AM EDT|
|Updated:||May 21, 2010 12:05 AM EDT|
ARCADIA, Fla-- Romill Blandin spent 20 months in prison after he pled guilty to selling and delivering cocaine. The case against him hinged on undercover video shot by Confidential Informant 0828. In that video, a silver truck pulls up and a man in the back seat hands over something to the informant. The truck then pulls away.
The suspect is difficult to identify, so police showed the informant a line up where she then picked out Romill Blandin.
Blandin's public defender told him based on his criminal history, and because the informant picked him out of a line up, he should plead guilty and face less time than if a jury convicted him.
"He was saying they have good videos of me," said Blandin.
But the confidential informant who picked him out of the line up was Shakira Redding.
Call for Action first spoke with her in February where she told us she lied to put people behind bars.
"There were a few people they wanted me to get and I kept telling them I couldn't get these people," said Redding.
Redding told us the drug task force put pressure on her, so she bought drugs ahead of time and hid them so she could plant evidence.
Officers pat down informants before buys to make sure they don't have any drugs on them to plant, but Redding says she got around this.
"I had it in my breast or my mouth," said Redding. "One time I had money in my breast. The dope I had in my mouth and my breast. They wasn't gonna search down here in my vagina. None of the searches were good."
Redding signed a sworn affidavit and turned it into the State Attorney's Office in Sarasota. In that affidavit, Redding claims she was promised a house, money and custody of her children if she helped make arrests.
When asked why she wanted to share her story Redding told WINK, "Truth will set you free. Something will happen. God will be on my side because everything in there is the truth. Even if everything I did was wrong, everything in there is the truth."
The truth did set several people free.
The State Attorney's office decided not to prosecute many of the cases where Redding served as a confidential informant.
But WINK News Call for Action found five cases where people served time in prison, including Romill Blandin.
"Frustrating, railroaded, humiliated, they're just trapping us around here because nobody is doing anything about it," said Blandin.
Now that he's out of prison, Romill's speaking out to bring attention to the problems in Desoto County.
"Whatever it takes to get you, they gonna get you," said Blandin.
Assistant State Attorney Guy Flowers told Call for Action in order for drug task force detectives to identify and arrest drug dealers they often have to use people who have had trouble with drugs as informants. He says they often don't have the best records and they disclose this information to juries.
Flowers tells WINK that his office interviewed Shakira Redding, who changed her story again; but he also says Redding claimed that she didn't lie in every case. Still, his office felt it necessary to dismiss more than 20 cases she was involved in.
However, Flowers tells us he is confident the drug task force in Desoto County is doing a good job.
This all happened before the current DeSoto Sheriff, William Wise, took office. Sheriff Wise tells us he will not comment.