Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 8:01 a.m.
Broward Sheriff's Office Det. Anthony Costanzo faces charges of witness tampering, evidence tampering, disclosure of confidential information, and felony use of a two-way communication device, all of which could theoretically put him in prison for life.
But a review of county personnel files shows Costanzo as a 13-year officer who, once he was actually hired, worked without any notable violations and, after lackluster performance reviews in the early 2000s, had a record of success that was praised by evaluators.
Costanzo was one of five officers to respond to an Oakland Park traffic stop last week. He arrested one woman and is accused of using his cell phone to record a conversation with her
about an unrelated case involving two Fort Lauderdale police officers -- he reportedly then sent the video to one of the officers involved and talked to his sergeant about it.
Costanzo graduated from a California police academy in 1992; he moved to South Florida later that year but was rejected by the Boca Raton and Hollywood police departments and disqualified from the Sunrise Police under the nepotism clause. He applied to the Broward Sheriff's Office in 1994 but failed the psychological evaluation, according to a 1999 memo from Edward J. Overman, who was at the time chief of the Oakland Park Police Department.
(The memo also says Costanzo admitted in a BSO polygraph test to "smoking marijuana twice when he was sixteen and to stealing a dollars [sic] worth of candy when he was six.")
Costanzo then worked security at companies including Kmart, Marshall's, and Sports Authority before a two-month stint at Coral Gables-based Wackenhut Security. He was working as a bouncer at Trio Nightclubs in Fort Lauderdale when he was hired as a BSO corrections deputy.
(Two months before he was hired, the Sun-Sentinel
ran a story about Trio and how its patrons were terrorizing neighbors and taking dumps on their doorsteps
In July 1999, he was recommended for a job in the Oakland Park Police Department (before it merged with BSO). By November 1999, he'd received his first commendation for catching a bank robber who had changed his clothes but forgot to change his hat.
Other than a less-than-satisfactory rating under "compliance with policy" in an April 2000 evaluation, Costanzo has had solid annual evaluations. He's currently out on bond -- there aren't yet any scheduled court dates, but his lawyer said last week that he would be pleading not guilty.