Former Wilton Manors Sports Bar Manager Charged with Cultivating Cannabis
For the past two years, Martin Kildea, 51, has made the local news as the plaintiff in a lawsuit, claiming he has been unlawfully cut out of his share of ownership in Sidelines, the popular Wilton Manors sports bar.
On April 24, Fort Lauderdale police put him behind some bars, but not the kind he was accustomed to working at Sidelines. He was arrested for the unlawful cultivation of marijuana, and will potentially face increased consequences, as the arrest was made within a thousand feet of a church.
Responding to a call that he was involved in a disturbance at his residence on NW 47 Street, FLPD officers made contact with one of the parties involved in the dispute. He claimed that Kildea was growing pot in his garage, but when asked about the grow, officers claim Kildea became “very defensive,” and rushed back inside his residence.
Moments later, police allege, they heard a commotion in the backyard, and peeked through a crack in the fence, only to observe Kildea at his open side garage door, “removing cannabis plants from two black pots.” After allegedly dumping the soil next to his fence, Kildea, according to his arrest report, then retreated to the rear of his residence, returning “without the plants.” Officers also claim to have noticed an additional plant adjacent to the crack in the fence.
Kildea reportedly then returned to front of the house to talk to the police, and was read his rights and detained. The police report claims Kildea spoke freely, and “denied any knowledge of what was seen” by the officers. He then gave the officers verbal consent to search the backyard. As they began to do so, he purportedly bragged to Officers Benoit and Smith that “you are not going to find anything, I flushed it down the toilet.”
Kildea was then arrested, and police subsequently secured a search warrant. Inside the home, detectives claim to have found cannabis seeds in two pill bottles. According to their report, Kildea gave detectives a “full confession.” Police say they found another 15 plants, 9 pounds of cannabis and 5 bags of seeds and buds in a large green cooler adjacent to Kildea’s backyard.
Because Kildea was accused of cultivating marijuana within a thousand feet of a church, he faces more serious sanctions and penalties, including up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $10,000. Because he has two previous cocaine arrests, and is already a convicted felon, from 2007, the penalties he faces will even be greater.
Ironically, one of the defenses Sidelines owner Lori Whitaker has asserted in the civil suit was Kildea’s prior adjudication of guilt for felonies. Because she became aware that a convicted felon may not hold a liquor license for 15 years, Whitaker has asserted that Kildea knew he was never offered a piece of the bar, and was nothing more than an employee who she terminated for cause. As proof, Whitaker has tendered evidence that after he was fired, Kildea applied to the state for unemployment insurance and had listed himself only as a “manager.” The two year old civil suit is pending and slowly making its way through the courts.
Kildea was released from jail on a $6,000 bond.