He oversaw the detective bureau, which handles all major crimes — homicides, rapes, robberies, child abuse. Seven people juggled a workload that would overwhelm a squad three times as large.

To relieve stress, Galligan cast himself as the funnyman, teasing his employees and never keeping them on a tight leash. "Galligan was a loose type of supervisor," says retired officer Sessa.

Schneider — AKA "Out to Lunch" — was one of Galligan's biggest fans. "He picked on Schneider more than anybody," Sessa says. But Schneider didn't seem to mind. "She loved Pat Galligan, and she's still standing by him to this day," Sessa says.

Sgt. Michael Dodson and Det. Lee Ann Schneider have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Riviera Beach Police Department
Sgt. Michael Dodson and Det. Lee Ann Schneider have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Schneider, 43, had been hired in Riviera Beach in 2002, just as the Harris FDLE investigation was ending. In the D-Bureau, Schneider became the mother hen, Sessa says, feeding people and watching out for them. She was single and married to her job, working reams of overtime. She needed the extra money, but she was also helping kids who were abused or neglected and women who were beaten or raped. She earned about $47,000 a year. Her reviews were mostly glowing, and Lt. Larry Payne told the FBI she was a "great employee" who "is rough around the edges but a good detective."

Not everyone found her style endearing, however. Passaro, one of the Musketeers, would tell the FBI she was "loud, obnoxious, and sometimes out of control."

Her close relationship with Galligan would soon land her in a hot seat.

In 2008, Galligan's base salary was $60,000, and he earned an additional $35,400 in overtime. The next year, he got a slight raise and earned $24,000 in overtime. Such large sums raised concerns among the city's penny pinchers. By July 2009, the Police Department was $200,000 beyond its overtime budget.

The Musketeers noticed Galligan's mounting pay stubs. They were annoyed that a boss could sit at home and field their phone calls, then submit overtime as if he'd worked the night. Passaro said he had only once seen Galligan out at a crime scene after 11 p.m.

Vance was so bothered by Galligan's overtime routine that he mentioned it when complaining to an FBI agent about Toombs in March 2009. The agent's ears perked up, and Vance assured him that other detectives could attest to Galligan's largess.

Schneider, ever the dutiful employee, allegedly took care of Galligan's paperwork. Musketeer Borrows said Schneider admitted to him that she signed Galligan's name to official documents, a violation of department rules. Galligan defended her, saying the process was justified because she would read him documents over the phone.

In May 2009, Borrows worked all night on an attempted murder case. Processing the case required him to call Galligan about three times during that shift. When he returned to the office the next morning, he submitted an overtime slip for two and a half hours of extra labor. He spotted Galligan in the office wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Despite the fact that he hadn't even driven out to the crime scene, the sergeant submitted overtime paperwork — for five hours of extra work on Borrows' case. Borrows was livid. He reported the incident to the FBI.

On August 25, 2009, the State Attorney's Office and the FBI, having considered both the complaint about Toombs possibly tipping off a suspect and the alleged overtime scandal, executed a search warrant on the Riviera Beach Police Department. Harris and other higher-ups sealed the cabinets in the D-Bureau with crime-scene tape, treating their own headquarters like the scene of a homicide. The entire squad was moved to different offices for months while investigators rifled through files. There were no arrests that day, but the State Attorney's Office began issuing subpoenas.


Two months passed, and still no officers were arrested. But things were about to get more bizarre.

In October 2009, Galligan announced he was retiring. His fellow cops threw a party for him at the Pelican Cafe in Lake Park. Sgt. Michael Dodson made sure he attended the festivities.

Pale and thin, with wire-framed glasses and hunched shoulders, Dodson looked more like a chemistry teacher than a ten-year police veteran. At 38, he was amicably divorced with a young daughter.

Galligan had been Dodson's mentor. Dodson spent a decade admiring the sergeant only to watch him squirm under the heat of the overtime scandal. Losing Galligan would mean big changes in the D-Bureau. The stress was taking a toll, and Dodson may already have been unstable. Before coming to Riviera, he had been denied a post in the Collier County Sheriff's Office because he failed a polygraph test.

Sgt. Travis Walker drove Dodson to the retirement party and later said Dodson had a "good number of drinks" at the café. On the ride home, the officers stopped at Citgo to buy cigarettes. They ran into another friend, and Dodson kept drinking — pouring Jim Beam into a red plastic cup — while they chatted for nearly two hours, Walker said. Another Riviera colleague would later tell a detective he had "rarely seen [Dodson] in that state, that drunk, ever."

Walker finally dropped Dodson off at his mother's house in Palm Beach Gardens, where he'd been living, at 2:20 a.m. An hour later, a distress call came over the Riviera police radio system: "Ten-twenty-four, officer needs help."

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5 comments
pissedoff
pissedoff

Remember... It's our money paying for these dirtbags, that do nothing for justice. Not government money, not yada yada.... OUR money pay for these lazy dirtbags that do nothing. Don't tell me they don't know who set that dog on fire... Actually, they probably don't, because they obviously didn't even check it out. They are too interested in their 'flag day', 'president's day' off.

pissedoff
pissedoff

This area is why people call Florida... FloriDUH. You interview a woman that says she hears a "whoosh" (how theatrical of you) when a dog is set on fire.... but you find nothing, and she saw nothing. BS! Whoever did that is on their way to killing people. Not that that would be less of a crime. You want to post the sensationalism...but do nothing to find the guilt. The entire area is nothing but government sucking on taxpayers hard earned money. Fix it. Solve it. Do what you're paid to do.

Guest
Guest

"Despite Decades of Corruption Allegations, Is the Riviera Beach Police Department Clean?"

Does New Times have monkeys writing the headlines these days?

Longtimecop
Longtimecop

Been there and done that, I've seen this movie play out before in little fiefdoms in other cities. You have mayors and city commissioners who are ill educated and quite frankly, Joe Shit-The Ragman, now they they get elected by even more of uneducated bunch of retards, that now have a "hook" in city hall. Now these Joe Shit the Ragmen and women believe they are great politicians, great contributors to the republic, even though they are appliance salesmen! Now, they get chummy with a few cops, mostly those that can't or don't have the education, skill or intelligence to do the job, but they have charisma, the ability to make these politicos "believe " they have special powers, These cops become the politico's eyes and ears of an agency, reporting on all goings on, down to minutia, the most powerful cop in a police department, ain't the chief, it is some road cop, not even a supervisor who pisses in every one's ear and tells 'em it's raining. The ONLY way that this city can be cleaned up is via a contract with PBSO. What will happen is the core group of dirtbags will be banished out of the city, a commander, educated and a professional law enforcement officer, who is loyal to PBSO will take over and do the right things, the crap will be weeded out and those who have sat on their ass' for years will now be held accountable. I know, I have lived it and observed it first hand. It works and it takes control of the police department out of the hands of the nitwit politicians and places it in the hands of the sheriff.

Guest2
Guest2

Apparently they have monkeys reading and commenting.

 
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