Robert Joshua jailed, faces 3 year minimum

Robert Joshua, a prominent gay businessman who once owned The Joshua Tree, an eclectic antique shop on North Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, has been convicted of drug trafficking in Broward County Court.

On Monday night, March 16, after two hours of deliberation, a jury found the former owner of the Joshua Tree, guilty of trafficking in crystal methamphetamine and ecstasy. Immediately taken into custody, Joshua, a Youngstown, Ohio native, is facing a minimum sentence of three years in Florida State Prison, with no right to an appellate bond.

Since his arrest in the fall of 2009, Joshua has asserted his innocence, going through a battery of lawyers and filing a host of motions in circuit court, alleging that an illegal undercover police operation unjustly targeted him and wrongfully set him up. The jury concluded otherwise.

Joshua had argued that an unknown and unidentified source shipped crystal meth to him unknowingly from a California location. After its delivery to his Coral Ridge home, he said, he opened the package and stored it, simply because he was “in a hurry” to go to a scheduled business meeting. He never got there. Armed with a warrant, the police entered the home, found the opened package of meth in a concealed safe, and ecstasy in prescription bottles on Joshua’s bedroom dresser.

After his arrest, Joshua held a press conference offering a reward for the person or persons who secretly shipped the drugs to him, protesting that he knew nothing about them and was improperly set up by an unreliable informant out to get him. At the time, he was actively involved in the local LGBT community, supporting HIV causes.

In pre-trial motions, Joshua unsuccessfully attempted to have the court name the alleged informant publicly. Judge Andrew Siegel declined to do so, and the Fourth District Court of Appeals upheld his rulings.

Ted Daus handled the State Attorney’s office prosecution. Lawyers Alvin Entin and John Howes tried the case for Robert Joshua.