My name is Jeff Berkowitz I am 54 yrs old and live in Jupiter Florida with my wife and two older children. Thirty plus yrs ago I had a total of 7 knee operations on both knees in a period of 4 years, all of which were workmen’s comp related. I was told after the last operation I will need double knee replacements when I get older due to the fact I had arthritis developing in both knees. In the meantime, however, I used pain meds like Vicodin and others. For some reason, the pain meds made me violent and uncontrollable so I stopped taking them. A friend of mine at the time that was in Vietnam jokingly told me to smoke pot for the pain, so I did. Needless to say I did find some relief and without any nasty side effects, so for the past 30 yrs I have used marijuana to relieve the pain in my knees and my back as I got older.
On Friday 12/2/2011 myself,my wife,my father in law and my son went to bed at around 10 pm.I was awakened by my 21 yr old son who was screaming that someone was shooting at our house.I got up went outside and the car or truck was racing down the block away from our house.I told my wife to call the police.They came right away with multiple cars.However the shooters got away.The uniformed police officers that showed up were great they did all they could and found six 9 mm bullets in our home one that went through the tile wall in my kids bathroom.Anyway they left after a cpl of hours.
We had no idea who had done this to our home as nothing like this has gone on before.My daughter who was sleeping at her friends house called home the next morning and my wife told her what happened.She quickly responded with I know who is involved?She was having a problem with an Xfriend over a boyfriend that had escalated into a fight at school and all kinds of threats afterward including the statement below from this girls facebook page.This girl has and is a major problem to her own parents and was put on probation by her own parents a cpl months previous.After speaking to my daughter we learned this girl had recently ran away and was living with what I will call some real “gangsta” type African American kids.We had already taken our daughter out of school and allowed her to finish high school online for her own safety after the fight in school
yu deserve it . he STILL hits me up yu stupid bitch , hahah . it’s alright yu gonna get yurs when i catch yu slippen ! BODY BAGS AND TOE TAGS CUNT SKR8 UP
With the above said I called Palm Beach County Sheriffs to my house again on that morning which was Sat 12/03/2011 to give them the information we learned from my daughter.The police came to the house and again they were very respectful and understanding of our fear.I was told they would give this information to the detectives who would be investigating this shooting.I was told that the detectives would go to Jupiter High school to talk to this girl on Monday 12/05/2011.
This is when the nightmare begins.On Tuesday 12/06/2011 at approx 130 in the afternoon there was a knock at my door.I looked out the window and saw two men,neither of which looked like a detective.I went to the door and opened it up.We have two big Rottweilers who were going crazy so I shut the door and calmed them down for a second.I went back to the door and one of them took out a badge from under his shirt and said he was a detective investigating the shooting,I said great and went outside.Within 5 seconds they were asking me if I smoked marijuana?I said what does this have to do with the shooting incident.Then one of them asked me if I cultivate marijuana in my home and if I had automatic weapons inside the home?I said NO.They said that an officer that was at my house on Friday nite for the shooting smelled marijuana and not the smoking kind, he knew it to be the cultivated kind?Hmmmmm why nothing about it from the officers that night or the next day?Anyway I told the police no.no and no to searching my house.
My dogs were getting restless and crazy at this time and the detective stated if they go through the window I’m going to shoot them.So I turned around and tried to open the door but the detective told me I cannot go inside my own house without him?They told me they had a grow house in WPB that had 100 plants in it they were going to bust and needed to make sure there was nothing in my house before they went.Again I told them no,no,no.It was then that they told me they were done playing games and this is when the threats and coercion began.They told me that if I did not let them in NOW they would make me sit on the lawn with one of them while the other went to get a warrant.My wife had gone to pick up both of my kids from work,so thankfully they were not there for this ordeal.However the detective said to me the time is now or never.He told me that if I did not allow him to check the home NOW that when my wife and 2 kids came home they would be made to sit on the front lawn with us until a judge signed a warrant and that could take 24 hrs and we would all be sitting on the front lawn until he came back with the warrant.He also said that the same judge who signed the warrant would be the same judge I would be arraigned by and that judge would be told I did not cooperate which meant huge bail.They also said if they had to go get a warrant that I would be charged with everything they could charge me with also they would charge my wife as an accomplice and have our kids taken away?
I had to put all of the above on the scale of life as fast as possible and make a decision on what to do.The problem I was pondering was there was three 2 ft scrawny plants in my backyard along with two that were no more then 1 inch?None in the house and no automatic rifles.I’m a hunter and I had 2 hunting rifles one of which was loaded due to the shooting and the need to defend my home from “gangsters”.So with that said I did not want my wife and kids to suffer for this tiny bit of pot that I grew.Being I had no idea if they could make me and them sit there all night while they went to get a warrant?I decided to tell the detectives there was some in the back yard and asked them before I showed them if they would take me away before my family got home and saw me getting arrested.They told me they would do that so we went in the yard.
When I showed them the little monsters they said to me,you must have more where are they?I said none that was it.They demanded to go in the house thinking there was a grow house inside and at that point they didn’t care about the dogs who jumped on them and licked them like they were friends.I walked over to the rifle by my bed that was there due to the shooting picked it up to take the bullets out on my bed and the two detectives started screaming,one with his hand on his gun.They told me if I had been anyone else I would have been shot..They then looked through my room and on my desk by the computer was less then an 1/8th of pot and a pipe.They told me they were not interested in that and left it and the rifles?I said so you are arresting me for pot that cannot be smoked and leaving pot that can be?I also said to them 5 plants are more important then 6 bullets that went into my house?They laughed and said yes.They then briefly searched the rest of the house for approx 10 minutes found nothing after which they began the process of arresting me and got me out of there without my family seeing me.
At no time were my rights read to me ever and I was brought to the Jail where I was processed and released on $3000 bond within 8 hrs.I was charged with one count of cultivation for personal use and released Tuesday nite 12/06/2011.So in essence there was no detective assigned to the shooting case and I found that out when I called the PBC Sheriffs office on Thursday 12/08/2011 almost a week after the shooting asking them when I would meet with a detective regarding the shooting.Once I was told there was no detective assigned to the case I hung up and called the Sargent and asked him>Are 5 tiny little pot plants more important then a shooting where 6 bullets ended up in my house and someone could have been hit?He said he understood and agreed with me that this was not right.This Sargent made some calls and on Friday a homicide detective called me to tell me he was on the case.He said he was going to go to the school to interview this girl but that after that interview he was going on vacation for 2 wks and would resume the investigation when he returned?
Its quite obvious to me and anyone that hears this story that when the first interview with this girl was done she told them all kinds of things but would not sign a statement,so they were not able to get a warrant.Because if the officers that came to my house the nite of the shooting smelled it that night they would have said something and or searched and or got a warrant while they were at the house or the next day when I called them back to the house.Its also obvious the narco detectives thought that there was a “grow house” there because this girl told them so.Needless to say my daughter is now sleeping at a friends house where nobody knows until further notice and I am left defending my family with the same two weapons,aching knees a hurting back and a court date in Feb.I am seriously considering Michael M as my lead counsel and again I am asking for help in the way of letters and calls not money for my defense.My email address if anyone would like to contact me is firstname.lastname@example.org,feel