Criminal Law Sunrise cop resigns following drug investigation

Published on October 2nd, 2013 | by Daniel R. Perlman


Sunrise cop resigns following drug investigation

A Sunrise police officer resigned his position after he and his live-in girlfriend were accused of selling marijuana from their home.

The officer, Joseph Rodriguez-Santiago, 27, was cited last week for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and quit his job of six years after he was placed on administrative leave.

His girlfriend, Paige Nicole Merritt, 21, is facing two felony charges after she allegedly sold marijuana to a confidential informant on two different occasions, including once in front of Rodriguez-Santiago.

Sunrise police officials declined to comment beyond the complaint affidavit filed in the case, citing an ongoing criminal case and an ongoing internal investigation.

According to the affidavit, police received a tip from a confidential informant indicating the couple was selling pot from their Sunrise home.

On Sept. 16, the informant, wearing an audio monitoring device, was sent to the home to purchase $20 worth of marijuana. The informant spoke briefly with Rodriguez-Santiago before following Merritt into the home. Undercover officers then saw Rodriguez-Santiago drive away from the parking lot.

Inside the home, the informant reported that there were several clear, plastic bags containing marijuana on a kitchen table.

On Sept. 23, police arranged for the confidential informant to buy more marijuana. This time the informant was wearing an audio and video monitoring device.

According to the arrest report, Rodriguez-Santiago invited the informant inside the home and was present when Merritt sold $40 of weed.

Two days later, police obtained a search warrant for the home. Undercover officers pulled Merritt over after watching her drive away from the home. During the stop, detectives smelled marijuana and asked her if she had any. She then pulled two plastic bags stuffed with pot from underneath her bra.

Inside the home, according to the report, police found marijuana in different rooms, a scale, plastic bags, a drug grinder and smoking clips. Police said the money the informant used to buy the marijuana was found hidden inside an empty Crystal Light container.

“The items are strong indicators that [Merritt] and co-defendant, Joseph Rodriguez-Santiago, are both currently selling narcotics,” wrote Detective Erik Palacio in his arrest report.

In a sworn taped confession, Rodriguez-Santiago and his girlfriend “admitted to having knowledge to all the aforementioned violations,” Palacio wrote.

Merritt also allegedly admitted that when she was pulled over, she was on her way to Goldfinger Gentlemen’s Club, where she worked, to sell marijuana.

If you have been arrested for a Drug Crime the Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman can help. Please contact a Los Angeles Drug Crimes Attorney today to have your case reviewed.

Source: “Sunrise cop resigns following drug investigation,” October 2, 2013.

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