Entrapped

Hollywood police used a Bahamian Casanova to set up Valarie Curry

The pair arranged to meet two days later. Curry didn't know she'd be performing in front of a camera.


On July 8 at 12:30 p.m., Murray set the stage for his drug sting. He parked his red, two-door Ford Explorer outside the Oakwood Plaza Pearle Vision. From another unmarked police car, an officer trained a video camera on the SUV. Leon Mackey, dressed in a tight, light-blue shirt and jeans shorts that extended just past his knees, wore a police wire strapped to his body. He walked inside the optical store to fetch Valarie Curry.

Nearly an hour later, Mackey reappeared. Behind him walked Curry, dressed in a lightweight white blazer and white pants. The police camera panned across the parking lot as the informant and his target made their way to the Explorer. Curry sat down in the passenger seat. Mackey waited anxiously outside.

Murray, a tall man with sandy blond hair and a full beard wearing a light-blue Sears mechanics shirt, sat in the Explorer's driver's seat. "It's busy in there?" he asked, posing as Jay.

"Saturday is crazy," Curry answered. "Everybody wants glasses on Saturday. I had a whole big family. The kids, the mother -- everybody needed glasses."

What Murray says next is inaudible, but he clearly introduces drugs into the conversation. Curry brings up Bousfield, who she said sells drugs. "That's my brother's area," she says. "Everything's all right. For me, I ain't no trafficker. I used to traffic drugs a lot in the '80s... I know what's going on. But I haven't been around in so long."

Curry was boasting. She now claims that Mackey had prepped her on what to say. "I was just talking shit, to tell you the truth," she says. "Talking shit for him to feel comfortable. 'You have to make him feel like you know what you're doing.' That's what Leon told me."

The videotape continues. "I'm getting ready to drop a half [kilo] off to somebody else," Murray says, showing Curry a plastic bag filled with white powder. "That's beautiful, huh?"

"That's nice," Curry responds. "Yeah, man, that's all I used to do, Freeport, Nassau. Man, we had a customer who was working with us, and he used to let us go straight through [security]."

"Oh, I wish I would have known you a long time ago..."

"OK, well, he got my number," Curry says, referring to Mackey. "You can get my number. I'm working here 12 to 5..."

"Maybe I'll come get some glasses," Murray says jokingly.

But it wasn't glasses that Murray wanted. It was Curry. Twelve days later, on Thursday, July 20, 2000, the final taped phone call came at 11:20 p.m. Curry looked at her cell phone and recognized the number. It was Jay.

The two arranged to meet an hour later in the parking lot at the TGI Friday's in Oakwood Plaza. Curry would buy a two-ounce sample for $600. If it was good, she'd become the go-between for Murray and her brother.

At midnight, Curry pulled up in her sister's 1995 Toyota Camry. Two spots over was the red Ford Explorer. Curry walked over and saw Jay in the passenger seat. He stepped out of the vehicle.

"Where's Leon [Mackey]?" Curry asked.

"He had to make a run," she remembered Jay replying.

Curry gave the detective the $600. He handed her a small bag. The deal was done. She walked back to her car, placed the bag in the back seat, and headed toward the bar, where two of her friends were waiting to have drinks.

Then it happened. Police officers moved in from behind. "They grabbed me and slammed me on the ground," Curry recalled. Still in front of TGI Friday's, she saw Jay once more. Only then did Curry learn that he was a narcotics detective.

Murray would be commended six days later. "Great Job!" Sgt. Ken Haberland and Lt. James Futch scribbled on the commendation submitted to Murray's personnel file.

Curry would never again hear from Mackey.


In court, Murray claimed that Mackey was paid $300 for the information that led to Curry's arrest. That paltry amount seems to lend support to Curry's claim that Mackey set her up in retaliation for not dating him. During their brief relationship, Mackey gave Curry $150 for an electric bill, money for gas, and gifts from the Bahamas. In addition, he bought her dinner and drinks.

At best, Mackey broke even with the $300 payday. It's unlikely his interest was financial. During a September 30, 2001, hearing in Curry's trial, Murray claimed to be unaware of Mackey's romantic relationship with Curry.

"Do you talk to CIs about sexual encounters?" Judge Ilona M. Holmes asked the detective.

"No sexual encounters after the initial meetings, because sometimes confidential informants run into people on their own, you know, before any police involvement," Murray replied, seeming to suggest that prior sexual involvement would be tolerable. "Once that contact is made, we advise the confidential informant that there's to be no more additional contact with this person unless there's police presence or police control. And we are pretty adamant about the instructions."

"Do you know Ms. Curry is alleging that she was entrapped?" Holmes asked.

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