On The Trail Of A False Report
Remember the false report regarding "illegal narcotics" being found in Anna Nicole Smith's hotel room at the Seminole Hard Rock? It was included in a first-day report from Scott Weinberger of CBS-2 in New York, who cited unnamed law enforcement sources. Here's what he said in the report, which is no longer available in video form:
"Well Dana and Jim, CBS2 has learned that while searching Anna Nicole Smith's hotel room late this afternoon, investigators located two key pieces of evidence. First, an unknown amount of illegal narcotics, and also in her room, we have learned, Smith had prescription medications. Now, a toxicology report will determine whether one or a combination of these drugs contributed to her death. ... We're live in Los Angeles, Scott Weinberger, CBS2 News."
The info was repeated by countless news outlets, including the Big Three national cable news stations. Seminole police, however, denied that there was anything but prescription drugs in the room the next day and CBS-2 retracted the report by Weinberger, whose title is "chief investigative reporter" and who lists his reason to be a journalist as "digging for the truth and delivering it."
After receiving a tip, I too started digging for the truth and I found undeniable evidence that Weinberger has a mighty colorful history in South Florida. Back in 1980s, he was a deputy for none other than the Broward Sheriff's Office, which assisted the Seminoles in processing Anna Nicole's room. On the CBS-2 website he even lists the show "Cops" as his first time on TV, apparently while in a BSO uniform (BSO, under Sheriff Nick Navarro, was the first department to cooperate with the show).
But in 1992, he got in some serious trouble. Prosecutors investigated him for trying to cover up a drunken driving arrest for his girlfriend at the time. In a deal, he resigned from BSO rather than face prosecution, according to the Palm Beach Post at
the time. The Florida Department of Law Enforcment revoked his police certification, but he successfully appealed the revocation. He was given a year's probation and his certification was given a retroactive six-month suspension, Jenny Staletovich reported in 1996.
Described by the Post as a former P.R. man for Muhammed Ali, Weinberger then pitched and produced a behind a short-lived TV series titled The Marshal, before he went to work in the TV news business in 1995 at at WPBF-Channel 25. There again he became embroiled in controversy after he was appointed an auxiliary sheriff's deputy. The sheriff at the time, Charles McCutcheon, had been warned by his own investigators not to hire Weinberger because he "used 'blatant deception' on an application and had a 'very unsatisfactory employment history,'" Staletovich reported.
McCutcheon didn't listen and gave Weinberger use of a cruiser and radio and paid him $7 an hour. In 1997, the new sheriff, Bob Neumann, ordered Wienberger to stop identifying on Channel 25 "Crime Unit" reports as a "reserved deputy." A couple months after that order, Weinberger quit PBSO.
Apparently Channel 25, a bastion of journalistic ethics, had no problem with any of this. Eventually Wienberger made his way to New York, first at NBC, then to CBS in 2005, where he remains the top investigative dog who apparently still has crack -- but apparently sometimes wrong -- sources in his old stomping ground.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.