Purifoy arrest warrant quashed
Sheriff questions handling of drug case involving ex-Gator
Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 at 6:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 18, 2014 at 8:00 p.m.
The quashing of an arrest warrant for former University of Florida football player Loucheiz Purifoy, who was allegedly caught in March by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office with marijuana and synthetic drugs known as bath salts, will be the subject of a police internal affairs investigation.
The Gainesville Police Department investigation was requested by Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, whose department filed a sworn complaint against Purifoy and got the arrest warrant.
A law enforcement source told The Sun that Purifoy, who has been projected to be an early-round selection in the NFL draft that begins May 8, was not arrested at the time because he agreed to cooperate as an informant for the Gainesville Alachua County Drug Task Force.
However, he never could be reached by investigators with the task force, which includes sheriff's deputies and officers with the Gainesville Police Department.
The Sheriff's Office then filed a sworn complaint against Purifoy, after which a bench warrant was issued earlier this month, but the arrest warrant was quashed Wednesday.
In a letter to Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones on Friday, Sheriff Sadie Darnell requested that Jones conduct an internal affairs investigation into the possible involvement of GPD officers in the quashing of the warrant.
"I was made aware this morning of a Motion to Quash an Arrest Warrant in a case originated by an (ASO) deputy on March 19, 2014. Based on probable cause developed by the deputy, an arrest warrant was issued for Loucheiz Purifoy for April 4, 2014, after he failed to fulfill his end of the bargain made with GACDTF," Darnell wrote. "The action to quash the warrant is highly unusual and, as a result, I have numerous questions as to the propriety of how this occurred."
Darnell wrote that she has initial indications that GPD personnel might have been involved.
"Based upon the information I received this morning, no Alachua County Sheriff's personnel were involved in the motion to quash the warrant; quite the contrary as we were in the process of attempting to locate the subject individual," Darnell wrote.
GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said Friday evening an internal affairs investigation will be done.
"We will open up an internal inquiry. We learned of it this afternoon and we will open an internal investigation to make sure that policy was followed and to see exactly what happened with the case," Tobias said.
According to the warrant affidavit, a deputy on foot patrol in Linton Oaks, a neighborhood off Southwest 20th Avenue, smelled marijuana coming from a parked car at 917 SW 60th Terrace about 11:34 p.m. on March 18.
Purifoy was in the driver's seat of the car, which was a rental Buick from Tennessee, and was holding a marijuana joint, the warrant states. Purifoy was searched and two baggies that were later tested to contain a synthetic drug known as bath salts were found in Purifoy's pocket, according to the warrant.
After he was given a Miranda warning, Purifoy told deputies he bought the baggies several days before and believed they contained MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy or molly, the Sheriff's Office reported.
A source close to the case said Purifoy agreed that night to work with the task force as an informant, so they let him go. After that, he never returned phone calls and could not be reached by investigators.
Because of the alleged lack of cooperation, ASO filed the sworn complaint against Purifoy on April 4, charging him with possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of synthetic narcotics.
A warrant was then issued for Purifoy's arrest.
On Wednesday, attorney Steven Stanfield filed a motion on behalf of Purifoy to quash the arrest warrant.
The motion lists several justifications for quashing it, including one that Purifoy will make himself fully available to law enforcement on request. It also states Purifoy has no significant prior history with law enforcement and waives his right to a speedy trial.
The motion was granted Wednesday and the warrant canceled on Thursday, according to court records. Stanfield could not be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.
Purifoy announced in November that he would forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.
Last season, Purifoy started seven of 12 games and made 24 tackles, including two sacks, and an interception. He has been a key contributor to the Gators since his freshman season in 2011 out of Pensacola.
Purifoy was suspended for the first game of last season for an unspecified violation of team rules. He was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in February 2013, but the charge was dropped weeks later by the State Attorney's Office.