Originally published on Advocate.com January 23 2004 12:00 AM ET
A ruling that a detective was too good-looking for a gay suspect to be charged in an undercover drug sting has been upheld by an appeals court in Florida. The fourth district court of appeal agreed with Broward County circuit judge Susan Lebow's decision that Julio Blanco thought the undercover officer might have been looking for a sexual relationship--not drugs--when he asked whether the defendant liked to "party." Blanco, 37, who described himself as a lonely gay man, said that he understood "party" to mean having a good time or being sexually involved.
According to court records, Fort Lauderdale police detective Mike Nahum, working with a Drug Enforcement Administration team, followed up his question to Blanco with several requests for cocaine. Blanco refused three times and even tried to leave but was ultimately convinced to stay. Eventually he went to a rest room and bought some methamphetamines for the officer. "The whole situation seemed very clear to me," Lebow said during a 2002 hearing. "I mean, the detective walked in dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, and for the record, he was a very attractive man and--" The defense attorney interrupted and asked the judge to make an official finding that Nahum is attractive, which she did. "For the record, I would submit he was about 6-foot-2. He was in good shape, you know, a fit individual, young detective, looked to be maybe 30," Blanco's attorney, Kevin J. Kulik, said.
Nahum testified that he had done nothing to make himself appear attractive to Blanco and said he understood "party" to mean drugs. The appeals court agreed that Blanco had been entrapped by "nonverbal communication used" by the undercover agent. "There is no suggestion by anyone that the defendant was interested in committing any crime--and certainly not any drug crime--until the state
instigated and promoted such a violation," according to Wednesday's ruling. One appellate judge, Melanie May, dissented, writing "that this defendant was a lonely gay man looking for attention does not transform the officer's conduct into a type prohibited by the constitution." Fort Lauderdale police and Nahum declined to comment. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Joe Kilmer said agency lawyers would have to review the ruling before he could comment.