Maldonado Investigation Reveals Lauderdale Cop Had Fear of Reprisal
Jason Maldonado was a widely respected Fort Lauderdale detective, one who might have felt an extra layer of job security based on the fact that two years ago his former supervisor, Capt. Frank Adderley, became Chief Frank Adderley.
But the Internal Affairs investigation of Maldonado, which was recently made public, reveals that Maldonado had no faith that his superiors would protect him if he was discovered to be having a sexual relationship with a woman working with the department as a confidential informant.
In short, the Maldonado case was a test of the department's leadership culture, and based on a review of the case, Adderley's administration passed the test.
The file shows that Maldonado feared the consequences of his affair as early as March 2006, when Bruce Roberts was chief. That was the month that police conducted an undercover purchase of $2,500 in cocaine from Stephanie Georges at a Denny's restaurant along North Federal Highway.
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A team that included Maldonado arrested Georges after the buy. Police recovered 27 grams of cocaine through that transaction, then found 60 grams from a search of Georges' apartment. The day after she was busted, Georges agreed to act as a confidential informant in exchange for a reduction in her charges for dealing drugs.
That night, March 24, 2006, Maldonado called Georges several times, according to the investigation. Several days later they began having sex, according to Georges' statement to police.
Georges describes how Maldonado had her purchase two cell phones, with the intention of concealing the couple's communication from Maldonado's superiors. From Georges' statement:
That's why (he was) coming into the (apartment) complex giving a false name and hiding his car around back, because he knew it was taboo. He told me... he was afraid he was gonna lose his job the whole time..."
But at the same time, it seems the forbidden nature of the affair appealed to Maldonado. Not only was he married, but Georges had pending drug charges and was even wearing an electronic ankle bracelet so police could monitor her whereabouts.
"That was a turn on for him, absolutely," Georges told Internal Affairs. "It was sexy, you know? He had even made a comment to me that he had stopped a girl walking by the courthouse in a mini-skirt... and she had her ankle bracelet on and he asked her, 'Why do you have that on?'"
According to Georges, she and Maldonado got a hotel room at the Doubletree Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach for the Air & Sea Show in May, a tradition they renewed the following year. In August 2006, says Georges, Maldonado took her to Marco Island.
Georges' daughter gave a sworn statement to investigators in which she claimed that Maldonado visited her mother about three times a week, including times when he was on duty and wearing his police uniform. On the nights when Maldonado would sleep over, Georges' daughter told investigators she could hear the couple having sex and that the noise was so loud that she left the adjoining bedroom to sleep on the couch. The daughter says her mother instructed her to keep the relationship a secret, lest Maldonado get in trouble at work.
Eventually, the couple became more adventurous, says Georges, who said that she visited Maldonado during the early morning hours that he worked at the department's booking facility, so that they could have sex in her car.
The relationship between Maldonado and Georges lasted four years, although it appears there was at least one hiatus of a few months. A review of Maldonado's personnel file suggests that at the same time he was involved with Georges he was accused of having improper relationships with sex workers, allegations that were unsubstantiated. Georges claimed that Maldonado had at least one other girlfriend, named Jessica, who followed him from his previous job in Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale.
On March 31, 2010, Georges received a phone call from Maldonado's wife. That call, says Georges, ended her relationship with Maldonado. On April 1, Georges made her complaint to Internal Affairs in which she confessed to having a sexual relationship with Maldonado.
In his own statements to investigators, Maldonado said that relationship started in late 2007, after Georges had gone to drug court to face charges. He denied staying with Georges at a hotel for the airshow and taking her to Marco Island. He denied claims by Georges' daughter of his sleeping over at Georges' home while Georges was working for the department. He denied her allegations that he had sex with her while he was on duty at the police booking facility.
Georges passed a lie-detector test. Maldonado told investigators he believed that she had tricked the test.
Maldonado submitted a phone message from Georges that suggests she may have had another reason for ending the relationship, besides the claim that it was due to a Maldonado's wife discovering the affair. Based on a transcript of the message, Georges was angry about money that Maldonado owed her.
"That money has blood on it," said Georges in the message. "I hope you and your wife wipe your ass with it, OK? Seriously, take a shit and wipe your fucking ass with it. I would never want to touching it because it wasn't mine what you're giving back to me."
A review of cell phone records showed 197 calls between Maldonado and Georges in 2006 alone, 55 of which occurred in the week after she was arrested for the drug sting.
Maldonado was suspended without pay on September 14 and will be formally dismissed October 12, following the department's findings that he engaged in "untruthfulness," that he had an improper relationship with someone under criminal investigation, that he solicited special privileges based on his position and that his conduct was "unbecoming of a police officer."
He's the third Fort Lauderdale cop to be fired for disciplinary reasons since August. Rick Burn was fired for dereliction of duty. John Wezkiewicz was fired after video captured him mistreating a suspect being booked into jail. Another officer, Jeff Overcash, resigned his post to take a job with another police department, just as the department began an investigation into his conduct after a questionable arrest was caught on video.
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