In April 1993, Drug Enforcement Administration informant Helmut Groebe told his friend, German Count Wolfgang von Schlieffen, that he would arrange for von Schlieffen to meet buyers for several cars von Schlieffen wanted to sell. Von Schlieffen, a wealthy Miami real estate broker, owned a collection of exotic cars. At the meeting in Miami, Florida, the buyers, who were undercover DEA agents, repeatedly attempted to steer the conversation towards buying drugs. Von Schlieffen told the buyers he was not interested in drugs, he just wanted to sell his cars, but he was arrested after picking up $10,000 Groebe promised him for the use of his Jockey Club offices, where, unbeknownst to von Schlieffen, Groebe made a drug deal. Groebe had told DEA agents that he had promised von Schlieffen $10,000 to help arrange a drug transaction. In February 1994, a jury convicted von Schieffen of conspiracy to engage in cocaine trafficking and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
After the trial, defense attorneys discovered that the prosecution failed to disclose information about Groebe’s criminal history and the true amount of compensation he received. In addition, another informant was deported by the government shortly before von Schlieffen’s trial because he refused to back up Groebe and falsely testify against von Schlieffen. U.S. District Court Judge Wilkie D. Ferguson Jr. granted von Schlieffen a new trial and then dismissed all the charges in 2000 after the prosecution failed to produce Groebe for the retrial. In 2003, the same judge granted von Schlieffen’s claim under the Hyde Amendment for bad faith prosecution.
- Stephanie Denzel