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Informer's death in Tallahassee brings speculation to Clearwater

Rachel Hoffman, a graduate of Clearwater's Countryside High School who was killed last week while posing as a drug buyer for the Tallahassee Police Department, will be buried Tuesday.

Hoffman's family said Sunday that a service will be held 11 a.m. at Temple Ahavat Shalom, 1575 Curlew Road in Palm Harbor. She'll then be laid to rest at nearby Curlew Hills cemetery, 1750 Curlew Road.

"I'm heartbroken," said her father, Irv Hoffman, 58. "We're just trying to make it through the next few days."

Details of how the 23-year-old with a degree in psychology from Florida State University agreed to become an undercover informer, only to be killed in a rural area near Tallahassee, remained elusive.

Tallahassee police have been reluctant to provide information, according to the Hoffman family and the young woman's attorney, Johnny Devine. A department spokesman declined comment Sunday.

Hoffman was in a drug diversion program stemming from a 2007 arrest for felony marijuana possession. Tallahassee police have said she was recently arrested again and faced charges of possession of ecstasy with intent to sell, maintaining a drug house and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Devine believes Hoffman, who was fearful of going to jail, was coerced into becoming an informer, then was recklessly sent into a dangerous situation without adequate police oversight.

"They knew she had an attorney," Devine said. "And they never contacted me."

Wednesday, she was supposed to buy 1,500 pills of ecstasy, 2 ounces of cocaine or crack cocaine and a gun from Andrea J. Green and Deneilo Bradshaw, who were arrested Thursday in Orlando in connection with Hoffman's death.

Police have said Hoffman didn't follow protocols and left officer supervision to go with the men.

Today, Tallahassee police were to release more details on the new charges Hoffman faced. They've kept mum about the manner of her death.

But Devine said he knows his client was shot, and he wonders whether it was with the same gun police sent her to buy.

"They knew they would be armed," Devine said. "It is inexcusable that police, knowing what they did, would send her into that situation."

Will Van Sant can be reached at vansant@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4166. Information from the Tallahassee Democrat was used in this report.

Informer's death in Tallahassee brings speculation to Clearwater 05/11/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 1:40pm]
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