Elroy Phillips Dug Up Evidence From Prison, but He Still Might Not Get a Chance to Prove His Innocence

"Name your price," she claims the prosecutor told her.

It was no wonder that Ghent had used her as a bogus witness for his fabricated drug deal, the CI told Marston. She had been having sex with Ghent, she said. She claimed that she lived with him and that he had a side business selling drugs. She helped him deal crack in the neighborhood, and he even lent her his service weapon when she went on runs to drop off packages of drugs to low-level dealers.

The whole story might have seemed preposterous — if not for Ghent's history.

Elroy Phillips was known as "Eighty-Six" on the streets of South Florida. In prison, they call him "Law."
Eric Barton
Elroy Phillips was known as "Eighty-Six" on the streets of South Florida. In prison, they call him "Law."
Private investigator Ralph Marston helped Phillips dig up documents and scored a key interview with the government's lone witness.
Michael McElroy
Private investigator Ralph Marston helped Phillips dig up documents and scored a key interview with the government's lone witness.

Officer Michael Ghent walked into the Relax With Us massage parlor for the first time in October about ten years ago. According to court documents, Ghent gave his undercover name, Mike Malik, and pretended to be a pro football player with a leg injury. He asked to meet with some of the girls.

Over the next few months, Ghent returned regularly for massages. Both Ghent and the girls would get naked first, and then they'd end the massage by masturbating him, sometimes with the girl straddling him.

Eventually, Ghent told Relax With Us owner Bernadette Lesueur that he was an undercover cop. He demanded weekly protection money to keep the parlor from getting busted, according to the documents. Lesueur agreed, but over the next few years, Ghent's demands increased and sometimes became more frequent.

In 2005, he called Lesueur to ask for a $10,000 loan to help him buy a house. Lesueur didn't have that much money, but she did agree to give him $5,000. Lesueur would later give him another $4,000, which she believed he was going to invest for her in Iraqi dinars.

He hadn't paid the money back as of May 2006, when he called Lesueur and asked her and her husband to come to his home. Once there, Ghent told the couple that he was being followed. He asked if they were wearing a wire and told them to deny it if someone asked about the loan. When they asked about the money, Ghent responded: "My ex-wife kept the house. Get the money from her."

By January 2007, Lesueur had had enough and complained about Ghent to the FBI. The FBI called the West Palm Beach Police Department, which sent over Sgt. Patrick Flannery to question Lesueur. Flannery looked deeper into Ghent and found that he was having Lesueur's son-in-law buy drugs for him, according to documents.

He also discovered that Ghent had doctored police department paperwork to get low-income housing at the Malibu Bay Apartments. Ghent had gotten his supervisor to sign a blank form and later filled it out with false information to claim he was making less than $30,000, which would qualify him for low-income housing. He was actually making at least $57,000. Ghent had told the manager of the apartment complex that he was on "super undercover" status and agreed to help rid her of drug dealers who lived there if given a break on the rent. The manager agreed to cut the rent by $100 a month, but Ghent never kicked out the dealers.

In a recorded phone call between Ghent and Lesueur on January 11, 2007, the cop admitted to taking the $5,000. Lesueur also gave Flannery a copy of a videotape that showed Ghent taking a payment from her husband. Flannery interviewed several of the girls working at Relax With Us, who admitted to masturbating Ghent several times. One of the girls told Flannery she watched Ghent snort a white powder before she began.

West Palm police arrested Ghent on February 22, 2007, and charged him with bribery, solicitation of prostitution, and perjury. He could've faced decades in prison. But two months later, prosecutors gave him a sweetheart deal. He agreed to do 60 hours of community service and give up his certification to work as a cop. In exchange, prosecutors dropped the charges, and Ghent avoided having the crimes on his record.

Relax With Us has since closed, and Ghent declined to comment when New Times reached him in Jacksonville, where he now lives. He hung up the phone when questioned about Phillips. When asked later by text message, he responded: "I don't care what people say, only what god think, god bless you and the ones talkin bout me."

Phillips learned about Ghent's criminal case when he received a copy of the former cop's personnel file. He requested court documents that detailed the accusations against Ghent and filed them in his own case. The cops had claimed that only the CI and Ghent had seen Phillips sell drugs, and now the testimony of both of those witnesses was in question.

Ghent's history as a dirty cop could have instigated a review of cases, like the arrest of Phillips, in which Ghent was the only witness to a crime. Instead, West Palm cops backed the guy they ran off the force.

On December 21, 2009, Phillips received an unexpected record in the mail. It was a new copy of the log of the department's use of investigative funds. The new document covered roughly the same dates as the previous one, but this time it was written in different handwriting and included just the right damning information.

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My Voice Nation Help

Even *if* he's guilty, spending over half a million dollars to lock someone up for selling $50 worth of drugs is beyond stupid. We should be cutting these sentences instead of cutting education and services for seniors and the disabled. 

Courtney H
Courtney H

Wild read! I hope this guy's case gets a second look. 

Tammy Sanford
Tammy Sanford

Well I wish you all the best and will pray for you and yours. I beleive in your innocent and 2nd chances. I am a Mom of an Inmate in federal prison that was set up by the DEA and Lied to They never even tryed to get the big guy's running the show even with their name given not by my son but his girl freind. I have a friend in the feds he says that the DEA is not interested in catching the big guys they just want knoches on their belts the more the marrier. Our Justice System is broken and Washington broke it. May God Bliss you with your freedom


Good reporting. I am not so sure that I believe that Phillips is innocent but the facts as related in this article prove that the police lied in their reports. The mere fact of the timeline refutes a major component of this case.

The Pulp Blog
The Pulp Blog

Having spent years now looking at the evidence in this case, I'd agree, DeathFrog3. Who knows, Elroy Phillips may or may not have been a drug dealer, but the evidence presented on this case was shaky at best.