Big score a zero: Couple arrested
A man went to a motel hoping to buy $32,000 in cocaine, officials say. But the seller turned out to be an undercover detective.
By JAMAL THALJI
Published April 21, 2006
ZEPHYRHILLS - Cocaine is cheaper in South Florida than it is in Maine.
Which is why authorities say Timothy Webb strolled up to the Microtel Inn & Suites on Wednesday with a bank bag stuffed with $32,000 under his right arm.
He was there to buy 2 kilograms of cocaine from a source in Miami, authorities say, divide it up, then resell it in Maine for a huge profit.
It didn't turn out that way. The Miami contact was an undercover Pasco sheriff's detective, and Webb was arrested and charged with cocaine trafficking.
Depending on how much would have been charged for each gram of cocaine, the Pasco Sheriff's Office estimated Webb could have made up to $200,000. A kilogram equals about 2.2 pounds.
Instead, the undercover sting operation resulted not just in Webb's arrest, but also the arrest of his wife, Carol Niedt, on drug charges. A 5-year-old child was also taken into protective custody.
The couple's residence, a motor home, was seized along with more than $40,000 cash. If convicted, Webb, 45, faces a minimum of 15 years in prison.
"I would say he was devastated," said Lt. Robert Sullivan, who commands the sheriff's drug unit. "He was in shock at, A, we were cops, and that, B, he was going back to jail."
That's because Webb is a career criminal who has been in and out of Maine jails since his 20s. His last prison stint ended in January 2005. And his most serious crime was manslaughter.
In 1988, he was convicted in the drunken driving death of a 25-year-old motorcyclist in Randolph, Maine. The cyclist's girlfriend spent two months in the hospital, and Webb fled in his 1975 Oldsmobile.
Webb has also been convicted of charges such as carrying a concealed weapon, criminal mischief, unlawful possession of drugs, aggravated trafficking of drugs and multiple violations of probation. His last Maine arrest was in July on drug charges.
The sheriff's undercover operation at the Gall Boulevard motel used cocaine from a previous bust years ago. Webb walked into the room at 1:05 p.m.
At 1:09 p.m., he was under arrest.
The sting started a week ago, when the Sheriff's Office said Webb unknowingly told an undercover agent he wanted to buy the kilos. The deal was arranged, but the Sheriff's Office wouldn't say what led them to Webb.
"We received information that this fellow was looking to buy a large amount of cocaine," Sullivan said, "and we found a way to get ourselves hooked up with him as ... the suppliers.
"When you do an operation like this, you meet the person who's looking to buy and you make them do all the talking."
Before his arrest, Webb said he intended to resell the cocaine for profit. Based on intelligence gathered nationally, Sullivan estimated that in South Florida cocaine is worth between $16,000 to $20,000 a kilo, while in Maine a kilo goes for $25,000 to $26,000.
After his arrest, Webb told deputies the cocaine was for his own use. Deputies seized the $32,000 and an additional $10,000 they said Webb brought in case the Miami source had heroin or marijuana for sale
The money came from his wife's divorce settlement with her ex-husband, according to the Sheriff's Office. After Webb's arrest, deputies went to the motor home to question his wife, also known as Carol Webb.
After she was read her rights, the 48-year-old Zephyrhills woman admitted she had crack cocaine in her bra, according to a sheriff's report. Deputies found less than a fifth of an ounce on her, and found glass crack pipes, needles, metal spoons and about 21/2 ounces of Xanax in the motor home, the report said. She was charged with possession of crack cocaine, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance without prescription.
A 5-year-old child was also found in the motor home and is now in state custody. The Pasco Sheriff's Office did not release the child's name, gender or relationship to the couple.
Webb is being held in the county jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. Niedt is held in lieu of $10,500. Neither had been arrested in Florida before.
Times staff writer Chuin-Wei Yap and researcher Caryn Baird and other news organizations contributed to this report.