|Even disgraced Detectives need money now & then.|
A Middle District of Florida grand jury in Tampa recently indicted two detectives who allegedly disgraced not only their badges but their marriage by using the official police database to give a third person information used by that person to make fake tax returns. The tax refund money was then used according to the indictment by the married Tampa police detectives to pay down credit cards and repair their swimming pool. Apparently their combined salary of well over $150,000 just wasn't enough to live in the style they felt they deserved as detectives. Under federal criminal law the use of the databases could add two years to the federal sentence if convicted.
Among the databases allegedly abused during the course of the criminal conduct was the Florida state driver and motor vehicle records from which provided relevant protected private information such as social security numbers, dates of birth, full names and addresses. The fraudulent tax refund requests could then be made to look genuine.
One victim of the tax fraud was a witness to an attempted murder. This is especially shameful and disappointing if proven true. Within a week of his data being mined by sign-on logins from the two married detectives a fake bank account was opened in the witness's name, eventually filling the account with money from the fraud. Even good citizens might justifiably be reluctant to be involved in the criminal process if their vital personal information isn't safe and secure even from the police who conduct investigations. But in the Tampa Bay area police conduct has repeatedly been questioned such as when a Pinellas Sheriff's Detective resigned incident to an internal affairs investigation after being accused of using fake subpoenas, donning the clothes of utility workers to avoid applying for proper search warrants and possibly committing burglary and armed trespass. Instead of just allowing officers to resign or firing them, officers must be held to the same standards as the citizens they are sworn to protect. Perhaps if these earlier insidences of clear police misconduct had been followed with indictments of police officers, these two detectives would not have given into temptation.
Among the other charges the former detectives face are money laundering, obtaining information from a protected computer, aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, theft of government property and of course conspiracy since it would seem there was allegedly an agreement by the couple to carry out a plan to conduct criminal activity. One can't help but wonder where it went wrong for these two people. Were they fundamentally corrupt? Or were they good detectives who became jaded by the the day to day corruptions one often sees from police, and which are tolerated by not only the Tampa Police Department but by the Pinellas Sheriff's Office, the Clearwater Police Department and the Largo Police Department, such as when an officer tells a lie while on the witness stand. The truth as any prosecutor, judge or defense attorney will tell you is that officers often have incentives to commit perjury. Maybe if police departments took every incidence of police misconduct seriously these larger problems of police integrity and honesty would be almost unheard of.