Three Florida Officers Suspended in Leak Probe
Miami Herald, The (KRT)
via NewsEdge Corporation
May 21--Three veteran Hollywood police officers have been relieved of duty, accused of leaking information about a federal probe into corrupt cops within the department.
The three officers -- Maj. Frank McGarry, Lt. Chuck Roberts and patrol Officer Tammy Clyde -- were suspended Saturday with pay, pending the outcome of an internal investigation, police spokesman Tony Rode said.
The three are suspected of leaking information about an FBI probe to Sgt. Jeffry Courtney, one of the four police officers targeted by the federal agents. The probe was aborted as a result of the leak.
The FBI is also investigating who is responsible for the leak.
The federal investigation, dubbed "Operation Tarnished Badge" -- began in February 2004. The sting involved undercover FBI agents posing as members of a New York crime family who wanted protection for its South Florida operations.
Undercover FBI agents managed to snare a veteran officer, Kevin Companion, who in turn, recruited three other officers, Courtney, 52; Stephen Harrison, 46; and Thomas Simcox, 50.
But before federal authorities could identify whether other law enforcement officers were involved, they were forced to shut down the operation because Courtney was tipped off.
In early February, federal authorities informed Hollywood police Chief James Scarberry about the ongoing probe and asked him to keep the information to himself. But Scarberry told several top commanders, including McGarry, the city manager and the mayor.
Scarberry defended his decision after he received criticism for his actions, saying the FBI told him he could use his "discretion" in discussing the probe with others. He insisted he didn't tip off the targets of the probe.
After learning they were the targets of a federal investigation, Courtney and Companion called in sick on Feb. 19, filed their retirement papers and contacted attorneys. Federal authorities shut down the probe and on Feb. 22, arrested Companion, Courtney and Harrison. Simcox, who had been cooperating with the FBI, was allowed to surrender the following week.
A criminal complaint filed against the four officers detailed the illegal activities, which included extortion, bribe-taking, dealing in stolen property, protecting a crooked high-stakes card game, cargo theft and transporting a multikilo load of heroin from Miami Beach to Oakwood Plaza in Hollywood.
All four officers have pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count of providing protection to move more than one kilo of heroin from Miami Beach to Oakwood Plaza in Hollywood for what the cops believed were mob-connected drug dealers.
Over the last month, FBI agents have been questioning officers as to who leaked the sensitive information to the Hollywood four. Agents, according to several Hollywood officers, have been to the homes of McGarry, Roberts and Clyde.
McGarry and his attorney met with federal prosecutors Friday morning, several sources told The Miami Herald. On Monday, Scarberry declined to comment on the FBI and internal probes into the three officers, saying he would wait until all investigations were completed. However, the mayor has been informed of the federal investigation.
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