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Search warrant details how Clearwater police nabbed man, escort service

CLEARWATER — Detectives found cocaine, pain pills and nearly $60,000 in cash when they arrested a man accused of operating a drug and prostitution ring out of an upscale condo two weeks ago.

But an undercover detective had to use some quick thinking to protect his identity and the investigation as it unfolded, according to a search warrant filed Sept. 24.

Clearwater police began investigating Larry E. Schwartz, 64, after receiving numerous complaints over the past several years about illegal activity at the condo, at 2765 Via Cipriani, where Schwartz lives, police said.

During the investigation, vice and narcotic unit detectives met with a confidential informant who worked for the escort service. In early September, a detective called Schwartz and arranged a "date" with the informant.

When the detective arrived, he paid Schwartz $350 and was escorted to a bedroom, where he was joined by the informant, the search warrant states.

But the room had a glass wall and two glass doors, which made the room visible from other parts of the condo.

Since Schwartz had a view of the room, the detective and the informant stripped down to their underclothes and "sat on the bed in order to convey the impression that we were about to or just had engaged in sexual activity of some sort," the detective wrote in the warrant.

Afterwards, the detective purchased about 3.5 grams of powder cocaine from Schwartz, according to the warrant.

Schwartz told the undercover detective that he bought cocaine in large quantities with cash "up front" and that it came from Colombia before being transported to Miami.

A week or so later, the detective and the informant again pretended to have a sexual encounter. On that occasion, Schwartz offered another woman to the detective and said he "personally trained his models on how to perform sexually," the warrant states.

On Sept. 16, police executed the search warrant and seized the money, cocaine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, generic Xanax, marijuana, two laptop computers and two cell phones.

Schwartz was arrested Sept. 17 on multiple felony charges, including deriving proceeds from prostitution, trafficking in cocaine and oxycodone, sale and possession of cocaine, and possession of marijuana.

Bail was set at $157,500. He was released from the Pinellas County Jail on Sept. 18, a day before his birthday, after posting bond.

Reached by phone Friday, Schwartz referred a St. Petersburg Times reporter to his attorney, Daniel J. Fernandez.

A representative from Fernandez's office said he was out of the office until Monday, but supplied his e-mail address. Fernandez did not respond to an e-mail request for an interview.

Search warrant details how Clearwater police nabbed man, escort service 10/01/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 7:36pm]
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