Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hollywood cop gets 2 years probation for lying to FBI

By Ihosvani Rodriguez

4:42 PM EDT, October 3, 2007


A Hollywood police lieutenant who pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents looking into the leak of a corruption investigation agreed to turn in his badge and give up his pension Wednesday.

Charles Roberts, a 23-year veteran of the police department, will also serve two years of probation, pay a $2,500 fine and perform community service under a sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke. Also, as part of his probation, he is not allowed to handle a gun and it is up to the pension board to decide if he loses his pension.

Prosecutors said Roberts lied to FBI investigators trying to find out who leaked news of their investigation into the department. Roberts spread a rumor about the investigation and then lied to protect the source of the information, federal officials said.

In February, after the FBI learned their investigation had been compromised, they arrested four veteran Hollywood police officers who were accused of working as enforcers for undercover agents they thought were high-level New York mobsters.

Sgt. Jeff Courtney, detectives Thomas Simcox and Kevin Companion, and Officer Stephen Harrison have pleaded guilty and received federal prison sentences ranging from nine to 14 years.

The leak began spreading in late January, when senior FBI officials notified Police Chief James Scarberry and another high-ranking officer about their investigation.

According to Scarberry, Roberts officially retired shortly after his arrest earlier this year.

Although prosecutors have not charged anyone directly with leaking secret information, a decorated police major and a patrol officer have been punished for their involvement.

Frank McGarry, who had been on paid suspension for several months, returned to the department last month after being demoted from major to lieutenant.

Officer Tammy Clyde, who learned of the investigation through departmental gossip, remains on paid suspension and is nearing a settlement on her punishment, a police spokesman said.

The chief has said he informed at least eight city officials about the FBI investigation after agents told him about it. Those included Mayor Mara Giulianti and City Manager Cameron Benson, because they "had a need to know" about the operation, Scarberry said.

Another official he told was McGarry, who passed the information on to Roberts, according to court records and testimony. He relayed it to Clyde, and she told Courtney, prosecutors said.

Roberts pleaded guilty on July 25 in Miami federal court to a single count of making a false statement to FBI agents.

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