The Sun Sentinel by Rafael A. Olmeda - January 13, 2012
Fort Lauderdale, FL - Former Hollywood police officer Dewey Pressley was sentenced to 90 days in jail Friday for doctoring crash and DUI reports to protect a fellow cop who rear-ended a drunk driver almost two years ago. But Broward Circuit Judge Michael Robinson allowed Pressley to remain out on bond as his attorneys appeal the sentence. A jury on Dec. 6 found Pressley, 45, guilty of two counts of falsifying records related to the Feb. 16, 2009, arrest of a woman who stopped her car in the middle of the road to look for a cat that had jumped out of her car. Another police officer, Joel Francisco, rear-ended the woman's car because he didn't realize she had stopped; he was talking to a friend on his cellphone at the time, prosecutors said. Pressley's report placed all the blame for the crash on the woman, who was legally drunk and failed videotaped field sobriety tests. The same video recording captured Pressley's voice bragging about how he was going to do "a little Walt Disney" in his report to protect Francisco, citing the wayward cat as the reason Francisco got distracted. "I'm gonna put words in his mouth," Pressley said, explaining how he would phrase the report to make it appear that Francisco did nothing wrong. Prosecutor Adriana Alcalde-Padron recommended the maximum possible sentence of almost two years behind bars. "This crime spits in the face of justice," she said. "It cannot go unpunished." Defense attorney Rhea Grossman presented Robinson with a stack of letters from advocates for leniency for Pressley. She asked for a sentence that would erase the convictions and place Pressley on probation. Robinson upheld the convictions and gave Pressley 90 days in jail for each count, to run concurrently. The appeals process could last as long as two years, Grossman said outside court. She also said she was disappointed to see a jail sentence imposed for a misdemeanor first offense. Francisco also is facing charges related to the incident, which took place under the Interstate 95 overpass on Sheridan Street. Francisco's trial will take place at a later date. The jury rejected more serious conspiracy and official misconduct charges against Pressley, a 22-year veteran of the police force. Pressley was the first of two officers found guilty last month of crimes committed in the line of duty. On Dec. 19, Miramar police officer Jean Paul Jacobi was convicted of official misconduct, criminal mischief and falsifying records related to the search of an apartment rented by a drug suspect. The apartment was being used as a grow house, but Jacobi went in without a warrant and without the suspect's permission, witnesses testified. Jacobi faces more than five years in prison when he's sentenced. He's due back in court next week. In both the Hollywood and Miramar cases, prosecutors said police misconduct resulted in the dismissal of charges against defendants who otherwise would likely have been convicted. firstname.lastname@example.org - 954-356-4457 or Twitter@SSCourts.