Banishment Ends Tiffs With Police, Prosecutors
January 9, 1997|By SARAH RAGLAND Staff Writer
Michael Barfield’s latest battle with Palm Beach County police and prosecutors ended on Wednesday with a peculiar twist: He was banished.
Barfield, a paralegal who made his name taking on police officers, agreed to steer clear of Palm Beach County as part of a plea agreement on a grand theft charge. Barfield can only return to the county with written court approval.
Barfield, who pleaded guilty to grand theft, also will serve two years of house arrest at his home in Sarasota, followed by three years’ probation.
“He’s basically a menace in Palm Beach County,” said Thomas Bakkedahl, the Martin County prosecutor who handled the case because of Barfield’s conflicts with local prosecutors. “[The banishment) seemed to be in the best interest of the citizens of Palm Beach County.”
Barfield could not be reached for comment.
John Tierney, his attorney, said Barfield agreed to the deal because Barfield has little reason to be in Palm Beach County.
Until his arrest on the grand theft charge in 1995, Barfield was best known as a vocal critic of West Palm Beach police and Palm Beach County State Attorney Barry Krischer.
Barfield worked with the Jewett family in its crusade to prove that Bobby Jewett was a victim of police brutality, helping Jewett’s mother win a $1.25 million settlement from the city of West Palm Beach.
Jewett died from blows he received during a scuffle with two West Palm Beach undercover officers Nov. 24, 1990.
Krischer, who was in private practice at the time, successfully defended the officers accused in the Jewett beating in their criminal trial.
Barfield was arrested by West Palm Beach police in December 1995, accused of stealing from a client who hired Barfield to collect $7,500 from her ex-husband. Police said Barfield short-changed the woman, then threatened her when she said she was going to complain to prosecutors.
Tierney, who said the client got her money before Barfield was arrested, described the case as “vindictive and selective prosecution.”