An appellate court decision has left convicted felon Robert Joshua with a bittersweet victory. The former owner of the popular ‘Joshua Tree’ gift shop on North Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale was arrested on drug trafficking charges in 2009.
Tried and convicted in 2015 for trafficking in methamphetamines and ecstasy, and sentenced to state prison for 42 months on each count separately, the Court of Appeals last week reversed his conviction on the meth charge, but affirmed it for the ecstasy count. As a result, one of the two sentences was upheld, and Joshua will remain in custody for the duration of his three and a half year sentence.
The oddity came about through a quirk of law. For years, Joshua argued that he was set up when a package of methamphetamine was unknowingly sent to his house in 2009. He had petitioned the court at the time to reveal the confidential informant who set him up, so he could confront his accuser.
The lower court refused to do so, but the appellate court reversed, and ordered a new trial on the grounds that Joshua was wrongly denied that right, and should have had the opportunity to directly confront the CI on the meth charge.
However, the higher court also ruled that the warrant, which gave rise to the search of his home, was lawful and properly secured. Incident to that search, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department found a stash of ecstasy in his bedroom and on his dresser, which constituted a trafficking charge, and came about without the aid of any informant. That count was upheld, and even though the meth charge was dismissed, the sentence of 42 months on the second charge remains intact.
Joshua fought the charge vigorously, even recently offering a $25,000 reward if someone could identify the person who ‘set him up.’ As the case developed, it turned out the person who gave up Joshua’s name to law enforcement was a local attorney Michael Leader, trying to gain an advantage for another one of his drug clients.
It is unknown at this time whether the State of Florida will seek a new trial on the first charge, or just let the sentence run out on count two, and be done with the matter.