NEW: PBSO deputy facing child-porn charges had home searched for marijuana


A Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputy facing child-pornography charges had a search warrant served at his West Palm Beach residence in 2016 after fellow deputies smelled marijuana coming from his home.

After obtaining the warrant, authorities found 6 grams of marijuana inside Kurt Castaldo’s apartment, as well as “large clear plastic bags which are indicative of someone who may be distributing narcotics,” according to Castaldo’s 800-page internal-affairs file.

Castaldo, 46, was placed on administrative leave with pay for three months but was not arrested. He escaped any discipline after a PBSO investigation found that the charge was unsubstantiated.

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April L. Winn, Castaldo’s 42-year-old wife, told deputies the marijuana belonged to her. She was given a notice to appear in court for possessing less than 20 grams of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. The State Attorney’s Office chose not to pursue the charges against Winn.

Castaldo, a road-patrol deputy who has been with the sheriff’s office since January 2009, is back on administrative leave following his arrest Aug. 22 on the child-porn charges. He was released Saturday from the Palm Beach County Jail after posting $16,000 bail.

According to a sheriff’s report, a PBSO detective on June 7 got a tip on a social-media site saying that in April, an unknown user had uploaded five images showing minors in sex acts. Investigators accessed the files, and a search of the IP address associated with them led investigators to Castaldo, the report said.

Castaldo’s internal-affairs report reveals that he completed a training course involving child-sex crimes in December.

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The personnel file also shows that Castaldo has been disciplined three times, including a written reprimand and an eight-hour suspension, since he joined PBSO for abusing departmental rules regarding sick leave.

According to documents obtained by The Palm Beach Post, two PBSO detectives went to a home in West Palm Beach on April 5, 2016, looking for a wanted fugitive.

When the detectives arrived, they found a marked PBSO vehicle in front of the home. They were greeted at the front door by Castaldo and an odor of marijuana that was so strong a detective said he “expected to see smoke billowing out,” according to the documents.

“Castaldo was nervous as he was visibly shaking,” the detective reported to an investigator.

Castaldo and Winn said they did not know the fugitive and the detectives left. The investigators informed their supervisors of smelling marijuana at Castaldo’s home, and a search warrant was requested and served the same day.

When law enforcement — including a SWAT team — returned to the residence, officers found the home had been disinfected with an “almost nauseating” combination of bleach and incense inserted into air vents.

A police K-9 still managed to find the 6 ounces of marijuana in the couple’s bedroom, according to the report.

Winn told investigators that Castaldo was a “straight shooter” who did not know the marijuana was in the home. Winn said friends she had at the apartment for a birthday party may have smoked the pot.

Castaldo denied any knowledge of the marijuana or ever smelling it inside his home.

Castaldo, once a PBSO corrections’ officer, could spend years in prison if convicted in the child-pornography case. He faces five counts of possessing child pornography and one count each of directing or promoting sexual performance by a child, obscene communication and use of a two-way device to facilitate a felony.

The images allegedly found in Castaldo’s possession involved children ranging in ages from 6 to 16 who had been forced into sexual acts, according to a PBSO arrest report.

Castaldo admitted to having had an interest in child pornography for 20 years and to searching for it on the internet via his cellphone, the report said.

During a court appearance Aug. 24, Castaldo was ordered to turn over his passport and was told he can’t be in possession of any device that can access the internet.

Castaldo was also directed by Judge Ted Booras to have no contact with children.

Michael Salnick, Castaldo’s defense attorney, said last month that Castaldo has two children.



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