Pensacola cocaine trafficking bust nets some prominent names
By Associated Press
Published December 11, 2003
PENSACOLA - A millionaire college board member, a bar owner, a state champion high school soccer coach and a probation officer are among about 40 people charged in connection with a cocaine trafficking operation, authorities said.
More than 30 arrests were made Tuesday and Wednesday and more were expected following a three-year investigation that state and federal investigators call "Operation Sandshaker."
Federal prosecutors also seek forfeiture of the Sandshaker Lounge & Package Store and two condominiums, both at Pensacola Beach, and a Pensacola home.
A federal grand jury indicted 11 defendants. The others are facing state charges, including Charles Switzer, 54, a former Texaco executive and retired Lamar Advertising Co. manager who is on Pensacola Junior College's board of governors.
Switzer's family gave the college $1-million in 1998, and a campus arts center is named for his wife, Anna Lamar Switzer. He also chaired the steering committee for a drive that raised millions for the business school at the University of West Florida, where the couple have endowed a business ethics scholarship.
Switzer is charged with cocaine trafficking and criminal conspiracy involving an attempted solicitation, both first-degree felonies. State law enforcement agents say they overheard him describe himself as a "big-time drug dealer." A woman at the Switzers' home in suburban Gulf Breeze declined comment.
Sandshaker owner Linda Taylor Murphy, 51, and her husband, Robert Marshal Murphy, 51, are among the 11 federal defendants, all charged with conspiracy to distribute more than 11 pounds of cocaine. They did not return a message left at their Pensacola Beach home Wednesday.
Also facing state charges are state probation officer Theresa Ann Williams, 43, of Pensacola, and Pamela Susan Reynolds, 52, of Pensacola Beach, who was Florida's Class 2-A girls soccer coach of the year after leading her Gulf Breeze High School team to a state title in 2000.
Williams, who also serves as vice president of the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency, and Reynolds did not immediately return calls Wednesday.
Another state defendant is John Todd Pallin, 40, of Pensacola, who works as boat captain for Fred Levin, one of Florida's best-known lawyers and namesake of the University of Florida's law school. Levin said he was shocked by Pallin's arrest but knew nothing else about it. Pallin did not immediately return a call Wednesday.