Valarie Joaceus looks beat. Inside her tidy living room in North Lauderdale, the blinds drawn tight against the July sun's bite, she's slumped on a leather couch, a heavy-set, middle-aged mom overloaded with worry. Joaceus' two sons — 26-year-old Jonathan and Gregory, 25 — have had their trouble with police. The oldest even spent two years in prison on a drug charge. But the latest conflict has crushed Joaceus' patience. Because this time, she says, it's a Broward Sheriff Office deputy who broke the law.
"That day was just the icing on the cake," she says. "What the hell was that man doing in my house?"
The trouble started around 1 p.m. last December 10. Joaceus was at work when her husband, an accountant, called. A neighbor had phoned him to say a police officer was inside their house, and he asked her to go investigate.
North Lauderdale Mom Finds BSO in Her House Without a Warrant
When Joaceus pulled onto SW 79th Terrace, she saw an unmarked BSO Charger sitting in front of the modest sherbet-colored home the family had occupied for 15 years. Deputy Brian Dodge was standing near his vehicle. Joaceus noticed he was holding her son's house keys.
According to Joaceus, she identified herself as the owner of the house and asked Dodge what was going on. Her son had just been arrested, the deputy explained.
Around 12:30 that day, Dodge had pulled over a green Volkswagen on nearby Southgate Boulevard after watching the car blow through a stop sign. The cabin reeked of weed, Dodge's arrest report later stated. The driver, Carlos Edouard, and a passenger, Jonathan Joaceus, both appeared to have green, leafy crumbs around their mouths; they eventually both admitted to eating marijuana, and Dodge charged both with tampering/destroying physical evidence.
But the report does not include anything about what the deputy told Joaceus happened next: Jonathan supposedly gave Dodge his house keys, giving the deputy free reign to drive over and search it for drugs. The cop admitted he had no warrant, Joaceus says.
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Later, Jonathan says that he didn't give the keys to the deputy but that Dodge took them.
Jonathan had previously been arrested on multiple occasions for drug possession, and he's still facing the tampering charge. But Joaceus says her son is trying to straighten himself out. "We're a good family," she says.
Tragically, Gregory died of a heart attack earlier this year. After grieving, Joaceus filed a complaint in May with BSO about the warrantless search.
"At the moment, we are conducting a preliminary investigative inquiry," BSO's Keyla Concepción tells New Times, "which basically means we're looking into a complaint."