The Naked Truth
Sheriff Ken Jenne's 34-year career in public service always seemed like a steady, inexorable march upward. He climbed from hotshot assistant state attorney to a high-profile member of the Broward County Board of Commissioners before moving on to the Florida Senate, where he served for 20 years. In 1998, after the death of Broward Sheriff Ron Cochran, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed Jenne to run the largest sheriff's agency in America.
Widely acknowledged as the most influential elected official in Broward County, Jenne was elected to a third term in November 2004, facing only nominal opposition.
The sky was the limit. With Jeb Bush term-limited out at the end of this year, the gubernatorial race was an open field. In the early handicapping, the round-faced and compactly built sheriff seemed a prime contender.
Then came the Powertrac scandal.
Powertrac was a complex statistical system used to quickly assess and respond to crime patterns. Modeled after Compstat, a seminal crime-fighting tool developed by the New York City Police Department in the early 1990s, Powertrac powered up just as Jenne became sheriff. He wholeheartedly embraced the system, torturing a catchy acronym from the name: Provide Objectives Where Enforcement Resources Target Responses Against Crime.
Suddenly, amazing things were happening when BSO patrolled neighborhoods. Crime plummeted and the rates of solved crimes soared. Other police departments in Broward and all over the state looked like Keystone Kops compared to crack crime fighters of the BSO.
John DeGroot, a former advisor to Jenne before the growing administrative scandal drove them apart, jokingly describes the change as a "law-enforcement Lourdes," a crime-fighting miracle.
But Powertrac turned out to be not a miracle but a house of cards. By early 2004, the Broward County State Attorney's Office (SAO) was immersed in an investigation of widespread falsification of records by BSO deputies. Particularly skewed were BSO's rates of solving crimes in Pompano Beach and Oakland Park as compared to the numbers generated by the disbanded police departments.
Interviews with current and former BSO employees and independent investigators, as well as a careful reading of court and SAO documents, suggest that Jenne and his top men had long known of the problems underlying Powertrac and the improbability of its results. Despite his strong protestations that he was ignorant of the falsifications, Jenne was clearly familiar with the distorted statistics, which were paraded before him during the weekly Powertrac sessions he presided over. He signed verifications attesting to the numbers' accuracy before they were sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He'd wielded the stats to convince municipalities to scrap their own police departments and contract with BSO.
Jenne's second in command, Undersheriff Tom Carney, had personally blocked nascent investigations that could have blown the walls down on the numbers façade much earlier.
The Broward State Attorney's Office, now in its third year of investigation, has grown frustrated by the stone wall BSO has presented investigators. Last September, Timothy Donnelly, the office's lead public corruption prosecutor, complained in a letter to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that many at BSO had "lied, continue to lie or are keeping silent about the corruption" and are also "throwing up absurd obstacles to the investigation."
So far, prosecutors have only squeezed a few plea bargains out of a handful of low-level deputies; the one case to make it to court, Christian Zapata, ended in a mistrial three weeks ago because of a paperwork snafu. As for the BSO brass who apparently orchestrated the widespread fraud? Most have either retired with pensions or continue to work.
Meanwhile, deputies who've been frank with SAO investigators about the system of dishonesty that created the crime stat scandal have been punished by BSO, critics say, while those with faulty memories find the protection of the agency.
The clear evidence of widespread falsification is perhaps most telling in the comparison of crime stats before and after the scandal broke. In Weston, for example, once considered BSO's shining star of clearing crimes, the rate of "solving" crimes in 2003 was 62 percent. The percentage plummeted to 19 percent for the first half of 2005.
"So BSO," DeGroot quips, "has clearly stopped doing whatever it said it was not doing."
And nobody mentions Jenne anymore as a leading gubernatorial candidate.
For Jenne and his top men, Powertrac had been a purifying water, but to the men and women on the front lines, the much-hyped accountability system was a drink of poison.
Joe Isabella, a quick-talking 36-year-old with a bantam build, hired on to the Oakland Park Police Department in 1996 as a patrolman, but he found things worked differently after BSO took over in August 2000.
He routinely got reports back, sometimes with a note telling him to reclassify a burglary to a theft, which is a lesser crime. "All my elements of a burglary were red-inked out leave this out, put this in instead," he recalls. "You'd turn a report in three or four times and it just kept coming back."
Disenchanted, Isabella transferred to the district's criminal investigations division in November 2002, where he worked as a detective in property crimes. He'd heard rumors that CI had its own version of fudging the numbers, and that reality banged him on the forehead after a few weeks of training.
His trainer asked him to step outside and talk to Zach Scott, another CI detective. Just as he'd stated in separate sworn statements to BSO and SAO investigators, Isabella told New Times that Scott had explained to him that it was imperative the division keep its crime clearance rate up. Scott advised Isabella that when he arrested someone for an offense, he needed to find other similar, unsolved crimes and file a report that the suspect also committed those crimes even if there was no evidence or confession to indicate so, Isabella says.
"Zach, what the hell are you talking about?" Isabella recalls asking. Scott explained about the pressure coming from their lieutenant, Mark Murray, who had been transferred to Oakland Park earlier that year from Weston, home of the gold standard of exceptional clearances.
"All the other districts do it," Scott allegedly told him. "We're like the last ones to fall. We've been resisting for a while." Isabella protested. He says Scott continued, "Joe, trust me, everyone is doing it. We got the go-ahead."
Isabella felt like he'd been inducted into the mob.
He wasn't alone in his despair. In 2002, Lance Morgan, nearing the 25 years he needed to retire, was transferred to road patrol in Lauderdale Lakes, a municipality that had a high homicide rate and plenty of burglaries. According to a statement he gave to the SAO in 2004, Morgan found himself surrounded by a culture of fraudulent paperwork that evolved because "the administration here doesn't want to have unsolved crimes."
He says he was asked to downgrade crimes frequently enough that he brought up the subject during a roll-call meeting after about six months at Lauderdale Lakes. He complained to the sergeant about CI detectives making road deputies downgrade reports. Having Morgan and his ilk do the dirty work, Morgan said, let the detectives "insulate themselves" from the paper trail of fabrication. Morgan's sergeant told him to not "make waves" and "just do what the CI sergeant tells you."
With fabrication so woven into the organizational fabric, Morgan said that "pretty much everybody knows to keep their mouth shut and do what they're told, and that's just the way it is..."
Jeff Ponz, a road deputy who also worked in Lauderdale Lakes, told investigators that fabrication was rife but speaking against it meant career suicide. "[W]hen you work for BSO," he told investigators, "they rule by intimidation and fear. You get on the bad side of somebody and you're all done. You do not cross your supervisor."
The engine driving this bastardization of police reporting was Powertrac, which employed weekly meetings where district chiefs and the deputies below them were grilled over the hot pit of statistics. Outside the meeting room loomed a giant photo of Jenne flanked by helicopters and a fleet of squad cars, with the sheriff staring out like Big Brother an apt analogy given the proceedings inside.
"You had to attend one of these Powertrac meetings to appreciate it," says DeGroot, a former investigative reporter with the Sun-Sentinel whose tousled gray-white hair frames a long, weary face. "It was god awful, brutal. It was really a star chamber in which the subject was placed behind a podium under a hot spotlight and I mean hot spotlight in a glare, and these guys, Carney and [Lt. Col. Tom] Brennan and Jenne, would sit in a kind of horseshoe, like the grand inquisitors confronting this fella. People were terrified to go to Powertrac. It invariably was a can of humiliating whoop-ass."
But if Powertrac induced fear, it also offered reward at least for the district chiefs, who could earn up to 5 percent of their annual salaries in bonuses if their numbers were good. As for the rank-and-file detectives, they got nothing.
In 1999, a year or so after Powertrac had been in place, Jack Maple, the bulldog-faced New York cop who invented Compstat, took a look at how BSO was handling its new system.
DeGroot, who worked for Jenne roughly the first year after his appointment as sheriff, recalls the cowboy-booted Maple striding around BSO headquarters. Jenne told DeGroot that Maple, who died in 2001 just short of age 50, had concluded that BSO needed to look at how they were exceptionally clearing cases.
"This guy was a cop," DeGroot says. "In other words, my reading was he wasn't going to drop a dime on anybody but he was also saying, you might want to look in your bedroom and see if there's an elephant in there."
Carney told SAO investigators that as a result of Maple's review, BSO beefed up the procedures for "exceptionally clearing" crimes, which were considered solved although a perpetrator was never charged.
"I'm a big one for checks and balances," Carney crowed to the inquisitors. "If you tell me the system is in place, tell me, demonstrate it."
That vaunted skepticism was nowhere in sight, though, at a January 2000 Powertrac meeting during which Mike Goldstein, the chief of BSO's Tamarac district, explained to Carney, Jenne, and others how his guys exceptionally cleared 99 unsolved burglary cases on one suspect.
In a videotape of that exchange, Goldstein first goes to great lengths to explain that the suspect wasn't coerced or promised anything for confessing to those 99 crimes indicating the suspect's lack of intelligence, he tells his superiors. With almost the next breath, he tells Carney that the guy was "quite intelligent" and able to "take detectives to specific locations, identify the specific house and specific items that he took out of that house" from crimes committed over a year-long period while strung out on drugs.
Despite the extraordinary number of clearances, Carney doesn't probe any deeper for answers, such as asking about tape recordings of the scores of confessions. Instead, Carney tells him that "doing clearances is part and parcel with this business" and calls this "a good case."
The Powertrac scandal didn't bubble to the public surface until the beginning of 2004, but there seems no doubt that top brass was aware of what was going on much earlier.
Two years earlier, according to depositions released by the State Attorney's Office, BSO supervisors apparently orchestrated a cover-up of one case that came dangerously close to revealing the internal rot.
The story began in the wee hours of a muggy June night in 2002. Deputies in Weston arrested Marion Ellison, a career burglar, pulling over his car. He complained of chest pains soon after being stopped and was taken to the Cleveland Clinic hospital in Weston, where he died. His death triggered an automatic investigation by BSO's homicide unit into whether police misconduct was involved.
Sgt. Steve Feeley of the Office of Professional Compliance, which is the agency's internal affairs division, was sent out to monitor that investigation. As it turned out, Ellison had simply died of a heart attack, but there were other problems. After reviewing the mountain of paperwork from the case, Feeley discovered inconsistencies in reports filed by Detective Edwin Arias, a husky 32-year-old with an oval, pudgy face.
On the night Ellison was arrested, deputies had also cuffed Arian Evans, a young man who'd been walking home in the middle of the night from a friend's get-together. Evans matched the description of an accomplice Ellison had supposedly described before his death. As cops would with any suspect with a long rap sheet, Arias had questioned Evans about other unsolved burglaries in Weston and nearby areas. If he could get Evans to admit to them, they possibly could be exceptionally cleared, considered solved but Evans wouldn't be charged and prosecuted. In this case, Arias claimed that Evans confessed to committing crimes with Ellison, and the detective exceptionally cleared five cases against Evans.
But Feeley found that the detective had filled out conflicting reports, with one stating Evans had been cooperative, the other that he'd been mute. After getting the go-ahead from his lieutenant, Feeley interviewed Evans, who vehemently denied confessing to the cleared crimes. Feeley talked to two witnesses, who confirmed the young man's alibi for that night.
To Feeley, this looked like a case of falsely clearing a crime report, which would be a criminal offense. He'd done most of the work on the case, and one of the last tasks remaining was interviewing Arias.
Under a precedent set by a 40-year-old federal case, police are required to submit to questioning by internal affairs or face termination. Referred to as Garrity statements, the cop's answers can't be used in a criminal proceeding, even if he's implicated himself.
But in late November of 2002, BSO's inspector general, Martin Rahinsky, a Philadelphian in his mid-60s, called Feeley to his office and told him that he wouldn't be taking the Garrity statement. In fact, the entire investigation of the case was being transferred to the district command in Weston.
It was an unprecedented move, and Feeley was baffled. "Our police and procedure manual calls for normally calls for criminal misconduct cases to be handled by our office," he said in a deposition. Investigations by district personnel were usually limited to lesser violations, such as discourtesy.
The peculiar handling of this case caused a stir among the men working in professional compliance, including the assistant inspector general, Roy Vrchota. He asked Inspector General Rahinsky if Carney and Jenne knew about how this case was being handled, and Rahinsky said they did. "When he said Colonel Carney said for it to go back to the district, I didn't go any further with it," Vrchota said in his deposition.
William Robshaw, the department's executive officer, bewildered by the transfer of the case, asked Weston's chief, Greg Page, to come to BSO's downtown headquarters for a briefing. Robshaw recalled in his deposition telling Page, "I have absolutely no idea what the process with the thinking is that's going on here."
Robshaw emphasized that this was a criminal case and that "you need to make sure you present this to the state attorney when you conclude your investigation." Feeley recalled Robshaw telling Chief Page that this was the "first time that he knows of that an active criminal case was being sent back to the command for completion."
Meanwhile, Arias was on pins and needles. One of his fellow detectives, Scott Jordan, a slim, brown-eyed 35-year-old with an easygoing manner, noticed the stress.
"I remember coming into work one day and he was down and out," Jordan told New Times. "He said that professional compliance was looking at one of his cases, an exceptional clearance case." Arias was "extremely pissed" off at his sergeant, Mike Menghi, whose cadre of detectives had produced clearance rates that brought accolades at Powertrac meetings.
"He didn't go into detail," Jordan said. "I asked him what he was going to do, and he said, 'If I go down, I'm bringing all these motherfuckers down with me.'"
But Arias needn't have worried. His superiors were apparently orchestrating a way to make the entire case go away quietly, as revealed in documents from the SAO investigation.
Carney ordered that Randy Goldberg, a lieutenant in Weston who was also an attorney, conduct Arias' Garrity interview. The transcript of that interview reads more like a defense attorney leading a witness than an inquisitor looking for truth.
During the interview, Goldberg asks Arias why there's a discrepancy in one of his reports.
"Lack of attention on my part."
"OK, so is it fair to say you made an error?" Goldberg asks helpfully.
"You screwed up?"
"Yes I did."
Shortly afterward, Goldberg manages to blend a question into an assertion: "Okay, so in other words, we have a cut and paste error."
The finale was Goldberg leading Arias to talk about his troubled seven-year marriage, noting that it "may have factored into the errors that... this investigation has revealed." Arias couldn't help but agree. (A few months later, Goldberg was representing Arias in his divorce case.)
Just add to this Menghi's contribution to the findings that his detective routinely didn't pay "proper attention to detail," and everything was good to go. Arias had been sloppy, was given a one-day suspension and the case was closed. The State Attorney's Office would receive nothing.
In early 2003, the closed file was sent back to Feeley, who considered its conclusion a sad joke. "I want to get this on the record," he told state attorney investigators. "The issue that concerns me on this case more than anything else isn't what was asked, it's what was obviously left out." Arias hadn't been asked for his notes or any tape recordings, nor was he pushed to talk about specifics of his interaction with the suspect.
In explaining to SAO investigators his decision to move the case to Weston, Carney characterized Rahinsky as a crybaby who said his department had too much work and too few people.
Carney's claim strains credibility, former BSO personnel say. First, Feeley had almost completed this case, so there was little time to be saved by shipping it off. Second, sending any criminal case out to the districts for investigation was rare.
So why was this case sent?
"I hate to use the word 'cover,'" Vrchota told investigators, "but I think that's exactly what happened to it."
Out in Weston, where Arias had once been "scared shitless about not only losing his job but being charged too," Jordan says, a sense of peace had come over the man during it all. One day, Jordan asked him how everything was going.
"Everything's going to be okay," Jordan recalls his fellow detective saying. "The chief took care of everything."
Other officers questioned the Powertrac game well before 2004, but they found themselves cut off at the knees by their superiors, who subsequently climbed to the Powertrac inner circle, according to the system's critics.
MaryAnn Lettieri resigned from the BSO Pompano Beach division in early 2001 at the height of her success as a detective. Today she's a successful real estate agent who lives with her husband Tim, a retired deputy, in a Margate home adorned with a platoon of rag dolls. She's an energetic 47-year-old with dirty-blond hair, long eyelashes, and a New Jersey accent.
Back in the summer of 2000, she was still getting used to the way BSO operated what used to be the Pompano Beach Police Department. Long-time BSO officers were starting to blend in. Lettieri, whose last name at the time was Reffett, reported to Brian Montgomery, a short, muscular sergeant.
The numbers pressure began, she says, after Pompano Beach was pulled into the Powertrac machine and the district's statistics were far less stellar compared to others. "So Jenne said, 'You need to do something with these crime stats because it's way too high,'" she recalls.
One Saturday that summer, the detectives met with Montgomery to go over everything for the Powertrac review coming up that Tuesday morning. Montgomery, at his computer, asked, "You want to see me clear up these crime stats real quick?" He then inserted code numbers on certain cases and they disappeared.
"I was dumbfounded," she says. "We just dispersed. We didn't say anything. We knew enough to keep our mouths shut." From that point on she steadily applied for other positions to get out of there.
Montgomery didn't hesitate to pull the disappearing act. In one October 2000 memo to Lettieri, Montgomery wrote, "I can loose [sic] a few cases in the system to bring your clearance rate up."
But he also did that without asking. "I have memos where I had the most cases outstanding, and then he'd show me this graph and I'd have the most cases cleared," she says. "What's going on here?"
She hit the breaking point in early January when, she says, Montgomery told her that he was in "big trouble" for hacking into his girlfriend's computer and taking $10,000. He was concerned that if she found out she'd press charges and he'd lose his job.
The next day she went to the division's captain and told him what Montgomery had said. He immediately took her to the office of Major Danny Wright, a tall, slim sharp dresser who was destined for greater things at BSO. She told him what Montgomery had said, what she'd seen him do to purge cases from the computer. "He's a hacker," she said.
"Do you have proof of that?" Wright asked. Lettieri calls it detective's instinct, but she knew with that question that Wright was already aware of the fudged numbers. He said he'd look into it.
Lettieri wasn't reassigned to a different sergeant; in fact, the next day she received an email from Montgomery asking why a dent in her squad car hadn't been repaired. "I knew my days were numbered," she says. "I knew they were going to ride me, set me up." Under extreme pressure from her superiors, that night she was hospitalized with severe chest pains. Wright called her husband and demanded she return to the office any paperwork she had at home even though she had no cases in immediate need of work.
Lettieri never went back to work, and she resigned a few weeks later. No one ever called her to ask her to stay. "Wouldn't you think when I put my notice in that somebody would have called me and said, 'Look, why are you leaving?'" Odder still because the month before, Wright had nominated her for deputy of the year, writing a glowing letter highlighting three high-profile cases she'd helped solve, including the capture of both a serial rapist and a child molester.
"They wanted me out of there because I knew what was going on," she says. At the beginning of February, she received a letter from James Knight, a captain in the district, indicating her allegations would be investigated. She never heard from anyone again. (She has related all her experiences to the Broward SAO. Through the BSO media office, New Times asked Montgomery and Wright to respond to Lettieri's allegations, as well as other assertions in this story. BSO declined to do so.)
Lettieri wasn't the only one driven out of Pompano for raising a fuss.
Allen Jackson, trim, energetic and now a full-time pastor, was fired from BSO last year. In a corner of his office at his storefront church in Lauderdale Lakes stand three cardboard boxes of plaques and awards he received during his 10 years as a community policing liaison with Pompano's black community.
Back in 1999, when Jenne was courting Pompano Beach city commissioners to allow BSO to take over the police department, Carney invited Jackson downtown, where the colonel regaled him with the wonders of Powertrac. Many blacks weren't happy about the prospect of BSO coming in, and Carney asked Jackson to spread the word about how Powertrac would make deputies accountable. Suitably impressed by the pitch, Jackson did his part to smooth the way for the take-over.
But by 2001, he started hearing grumbling about Powertrac from deputies, though he didn't take it seriously until a close friend of his on the force confided: "Allen, I can't take this. I have integrity. I'm not going to fudge numbers or change things. I'm not going to bow down and cater to Ken Jenne and go to jail for him." His friend retired from BSO.
But it was the suicide of a close friend that truly pitted him against BSO. Shortly before a Powertrac meeting on May 28, 2002, Sgt. Raphael Wolfe drove his squad car to BSO headquarters, parked, and shot himself twice in the chest.
Wolfe and Jackson had lunched together frequently, and the sergeant often stopped into Jackson's second floor office to complain about Powertrac and the pressure to alter numbers. Wolfe asked Jackson to intercede on his behalf by calling Danny Wright, who had by this time been promoted to downtown headquarters. The two had been friends at the Pompano department, but Wright brushed Jackson off.
Two weeks before his suicide, Wolfe and Jackson lunched at an Italian restaurant. "This fucking Powertrac is going to kill me," Wolfe told his friend, who was alarmed and suggested he needed to get out.
Losing a friend like that was tough, and it bothered Jackson all the more when Jenne appeared on the local news deflecting Powertrac as a cause in Wolfe's suicide.
An internal affairs investigation was launched by BSO, and Jackson informed Wright that he wanted to be interviewed. He was never contacted. The conclusion of that report downplayed the role of Powertrac even though the entire affair should have sparked an agencywide look into the integrity of the system.
"I requested to see the sheriff on two occasions," Jackson says. "I was blocked. Nothing happened with my first request. I was given a verbal reprimand the second time."
Jackson, who's black, believes he faced a backlash as a result. He endured retaliation, partly based on race, he claims. He was asked to perform duties that others with his same job title, but who were not black, were not asked to do. The final straw, he says, was being ordered to accompany deputies responding to 911 calls in squad cars, which he balked at doing because he was not a cop and hadn't been trained as one. He filed several complaints alleging harassment on basis of race, but failed to prevail. In early 2005 he was transferred to Lauderdale Lakes, and he knew the end was coming. He was fired in July for insubordination.
Carney and company had managed to cover up the decay in the Arias case, but the stench returned in the fall of 2003. The truth was finally exhumed by two disgruntled sources: a BSO sergeant and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
In September 2002, Fort Lauderdale had annexed certain unincorporated areas, including the neighborhoods of Melrose Park and Lauderdale Isles, which had been patrolled by BSO. Under the FLPD, the crime rates for the first part of 2003 were decidedly less rosy than in BSO days.
After the city's assistant police chief Jim Hurley accused BSO of slanting statistics to make deputies look good, Jenne invited the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct a limited audit of the numbers.
Meanwhile, an Oakland Park BSO sergeant set in motion the beginning of the end of Powertrac. Angered by a bad job evaluation in late summer 2003, Shawn Enser fired off a five-page response, which alleged, among other things, that Deputy Michael Kantor improperly downgraded crimes and that officers in general were caught up in the " Powertrac game" of manipulating crime figures. The memo somehow ended up in Jenne's office, because he personally gave it to inspector general Rahinsky, according to Rahinsky's sworn statement to the SAO. If Jenne expected this assault on Powertrac to die as quietly as the Arias probe, then he was in for a surprise.
Feeley was the first to begin looking into the matter and quickly realized that the allegations merited a much broader investigation. Robshaw and another investigator, Julian Ulvang, a short, stocky lieutenant, agreed completely. Rahinsky, however, wouldn't allow that, telling them that the FDLE audit would accomplish the same thing. He wanted them to limit their investigation to Kantor's alleged falsification.
Rahinsky's men sent the case to the Broward State Attorney's Office for review, and when the inspector general learned of this, he actually made a trip to the SAO and tried to get the case back. He told his men and, later, SAO investigators, that he felt his office was better suited to handle the case.
Judging from SAO documents, the more likely truth is that Rahinsky was feeling the heat from above. In fact, according to Ulvang's deposition, Rahinsky told him and Feeley that "the sheriff was upset that this case had gone down there."
In sworn statements by several of his subordinates, Rahinsky was said to have ordered his men to provide the SAO only their investigative findings concerning Kantor. Documents generated concerning possible widespread falsification were not to be given unless specifically requested.
The FDLE concluded in January 2004 that BSO was doing fine in its crime reporting. But then, how could it have determined anything else? Carney later told SAO investigators that the audit wasn't even looking for the kinds of falsification alleged in the Enser memo.
When the Herald's Wanda DeMarzo broke the news that the State Attorney's Office was looking into two cases of falsified reports, the ensuing media frenzy forced Jenne to make changes. According to DeGroot, the FDLE "all-clear" report left top cops at Lauderdale and some deputies sputtering mad and willing to tip off reporters about specific cases. In the spring of 2004, DeGroot began doubting Jenne and Carney's repeated assertions that the problem was limited to "a few bad apples." He started questioning the men who maintained the numbers for Powertrac and learned that many of them knew it was a widespread problem. But when he confronted Jenne about it, he found himself cut out of the loop, he says.
In early 2005, Jenne announced the retirement of four of BSO's top men, including Carney, but he emphasized that they weren't responsible for the crime stats scandal. Nor were the deputies or their supervisors. It was the fault of "the system," and that was now fixed. A couple of dozen deputies and sergeants were transferred around, but the people who helped build that system, such as Wright, Montgomery, and Page, remain in place.
Those who've kept their mouths shut after being charged with official misconduct by the SAO have received salaries from BSO during suspension an effective means of eliciting silence from an employee with a family, house mortgage, and credit card debt. Those who cooperate with the SAO or somehow impeach BSO higher-ups have been suspended without pay.
For example, Scott Jordan, the Weston detective, told SAO investigators about how his sergeant, Mike Menghi, directed him to exceptionally clear five cases in September 2002 by day's end an impossibility unless the clearances were fabricated. Jordan, who led the department in making actual arrests, did as Menghi asked but later told him to never ask him to do so again.
Because of the incident, Jordan sought a transfer to the robbery division downtown. There, he was allegedly asked by his sergeant, Frank Balante, to file a false report that a case was being dropped because the victim wouldn't cooperate. Jordan refused, and he and his partner eventually solved the case and made an arrest. Disgusted, Jordan transferred back to road patrol in 2003.
But when BSO learned of Jordan's confession of the Weston case and that he was naming names, the agency suspended him without pay. On the other hand, two other deputies who worked under Menghi, Chris Thieman and Chris Zapata, remain on the BSO payroll, though SAO has charged them with multiple counts of falsifying reports.
Joe Isabella, the Oakland Park detective, told BSO in a Garrity statement in July 2004 that he had been trained to falsify cases. Rather than hear him out, however, BSO investigators cut short the recorded interview and suspended him without pay on the spot. A few weeks later, Isabella provided BSO with the results of a polygraph test indicating he'd told the truth. (Isabella pleaded guilty to one count of falsifying records, a misdemeanor, in April 2005, for which he received no sentence or probation. BSO fired him the same day.)
For the past half year, Amlong has tried to get the records of BSO's internal affairs investigations of more than two dozen officers disciplined for numbers fabrication. BSO won't release them though, even though most are complete.
Jordan says he believes that Jenne won't release those internal investigations because the findings won't be defensible.
"Imagine you had 30 to 50 detectives under investigation," Jordan says. "Out of all those cases, how would it look to the public, to the media, if every single one of those cases had the same finding: carelessness or sloppiness? But that's the only way that Jenne and Carney could have made it look like they were not requiring people to falsify things."
At the bottom of all this, however, are the thousands of crimes that BSO wiped off the books without investigation, critics say. No one ever went out to solve those crimes. The perpetrators walk free, their victims betrayed by BSO.
Jackson argues that the citizens of Pompano Beach and Oakland Park were duped by the impressive numbers Jenne used in sales pitches.
"So if those numbers have been proven to be wrong, it was fraud, " Jackson declares. "The cities entered into fraudulent contracts. They should really be suing Ken Jenne."
Jackson wrote Gov. Jeb Bush last fall asking him to remove Jenne from office. An attorney from Bush's office wrote back that FDLE is conducting "a criminal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing" concerning Jenne.
But why, Jackson asks, hasn't Jenne been removed from office during the investigation, as was the case with Broward elections supervisor Miriam Oliphant while she was investigated?
Jordan, who's read every word of every document that's become public concerning the Powertrac scandal, doesn't expect investigators will find a smoking-gun memo overtly implicating the sheriff. "You won't find Jenne or Carney's name on anything that says, 'Please use false confessions to clear crimes,'" he says. "But the totality of all the circumstances, all their bullshit and lies, it all adds up. I can only conclude that they all knew."
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.
- Hollywood Looks to Build Affordable Housing for Artists
Wed., Feb. 10, 7:30pm
Thu., Feb. 11, 7:00pm
Fri., Feb. 12, 6:00pm
Fri., Feb. 12, 7:30pm
- Divers Protest Beach Renourishment Project in Broward
- UniverSoul Circus Still Uses Elephants, Draws Protesters in Miramar