FBI agents pose as mobsters, sting Florida cops
Four veteran police officers were accused Friday in court of taking bribes from people they thought were mobsters, but were actually FBI agents, according to an AP report (http://www.cnn.com/2007/LAW/02/23/police.corruption.ap/index.html).
The FBI agents were undercover, posing as New York-based criminal organization, as part of a two-year sting to catch a ring of corrupt police officers.
On Friday, the four officers were charged with conspiracy. The case will go before a grand jury.
The four officers are Detective Kevin Companion, 41; Sgt. Jeffrey Courtney, 51; Officer Stephen Harrison, 46; and Detective Thomas Simcox, 50, who all serve out of Hollywood, Fla.
According to the Miami Herald, Courtney, Harrison and Companion appeared in federal court Friday morning and pleaded not guilty. An arraignment is scheduled for March 15 (http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/16772270.htm).
The FBI had to shut down the sting operation after Courtney and Companion had discovered they were being investigated. Courtney and Companion had called in sick and put in their letters of resignation. After the FBI realized their cover had been blown, they immediately arrested Courtney, Harrison, and Companion.
According to agents, Companion was the leader of the group of crooked cops and recruited the others for illegal capers. "In exchange for cash, Companion and others protected the collection of illegal gambling debts and the fencing of stolen watches; they personally delivered $400,000 in bearer bonds and a tractor-trailer full of cigarettes; and they protected a rigged, high-stakes poker game on a yacht."
The FBI will continue their investigation, but it will be difficult now that the case has gone public.
The AP article focuses more heavily on the court procedings and the legalities of the case. The Herald article focuses more heavily on the investigation, its findings and the criminal activity. I thought it was interesting that the AP article stated that the suspects hadn't made any pleas while the Herald article said that three of them had plead not guilty. The AP article scratches the surface and unfortunately doesn't give any quotes to back up its claims. Because of this, there is very little information about the investigation and the illegal activity. I thought it was interesting that the Herald article thought the fact that the FBI investigation was blown was more important than the fact that four cops were arrested on corruption charges. This article used several quotes, mostly by Hollywood Police Chief James Scarberry, to support the claims about the charges and the investigation. I personally enjoyed the Herald article much more.