Rather than take her chances at trial in January, a former clerk for the federal grand jury in Miami pleaded guilty Friday to tipping off her husband by phone about an investigation into his drug-trafficking organization.
Tamika Jasper-Barbary, the 37-year-old Hollywood mother of a teenage daughter, now faces between probation and one year in prison at her sentencing before U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum in February.
That is drastically less than the minimum-mandatory 10-year term that awaits her husband, Andre Barbary, and other members of his ring, who were already found guilty at trial or pleaded guilty.
“This resolution was necessary to ensure that this difficult ordeal will cause the slightest possible disruption to her 13-year-old daughter’s life,” said her attorney, Scott Srebnick, noting there was no one else who could raise the couple’s daughter.
Jasper-Barbary, who had worked for the U.S. attorney’s office for 15 years, was charged last January along with her husband and seven other Floridians on charges of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than five kilos of cocaine and oxycodone since early 2011. The defendants were also charged with conspiring to use telephone facilities to carry out the trafficking plot.
But the allegations against Jasper-Barbary, who was making $57,000 a year before being placed on suspension without pay, went further.
Jasper-Barbary, who worked with grand juries impaneled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami, also was accused of tipping off her husband and his organization about a witness who was going to testify to the secretive federal panel about their activities.
Jasper-Barbary was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly disclosing that the witness, identified by the initials L.B., “was likely to provide information to the grand jury” in November 2011, according to the indictment.
Her arrest sent shock waves through the U.S. attorney’s office, whose employees recused themselves from the prosecution. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Pensacola.
On Friday, as part of her plea agreement, prosecutors dropped the drug-trafficking conspiracy and obstruction charges against her.
The prosecution’s case against Jasper-Barbary centered on the call she made to her husband about the government “snitch.”
The snitch, L.B., never actually testified before a federal grand jury, nor did a panel ever convene to hear his testimony. So, even if Jasper-Barbary had told her husband about him, she couldn’t have violated the grand jury’s secrecy or broken any laws, her attorney, Srebnick, initially argued.