Rotten to the Core: Your One-Stop Shop for Hollywood Police Corruption | New Times Broward-Palm Beach

Rotten to the Core: Your One-Stop Shop for Hollywood Police Corruption

This latest Hollywood police scandal is only the most recent black spot on what I believe can now safely be considered the worst police department in America. The Hollywood department has been plagued with scandal for years, so I thought I'd develop a post that links past stories involving the department's corruption. 

This is a work in progress and won't be easy; I may need your help with links. Don't hesitate to send them along. And understand while you're reading this that it represents a failure of leadership from the commission down. I believe it largely reflects the horrid legacy of former Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti and many more lackluster commissioners who kowtowed to the rogue force in exchange for police backing in their campaigns. 

Also understand that while the corruption in Hollywood's force is systemic and deep, there are still a lot of good cops in Hollywood despite it.

-- We must start with the Hollywood Police Department's bungling of one of the most notorious crimes in American history: the Adam Walsh abduction and murder in 1981. Investigators botched evidence and ignored witnesses, ending almost any hope of cleanly solving the case. Most famously, Hollywood police investigators actually managed to lose a suspect's car they had in storage and other key evidence. Last year, the department pinned the murder on a dead sociopath, Ottis Toole, who probably didn't do it (though Walsh's dad, America's Most Wanted's John Walsh, is sold on the idea). Credible witnesses have more recently strongly pointed the finger at none other than Jeffrey Dahmer, but again, the police investigation of that cannibal's possible involvement has been fatally flawed. Local author Arthur Jay Harris' book on the compelling case against Dahmer in the Walsh murder, Jeffrey Dahmer's Dirty Little Secret, was published earlier this month.   

-- In the 1990s, the department passed over qualified job candidates for unsuitable ones, many of them friends and relatives of Hollywood cops. The sham was revealed by former Hollywood Police Chief Richard Witt, who tried to fight the culture of corruption in the department and was run out of town for it. From an article by former New Times writer Trevor Aaronson, who did a great deal of investigation into the department:

During the five-year period, Hollywood hired officers with psychological problems, criminal records, and troubled pasts that should have excluded them from police work. Some cops had been rejected by as many as nine law enforcement agencies before they were allowed to patrol the city's streets. Of 59 offered employment by Hollywood at the time, 42 were found to have psychological or background problems that the city did not address, according to a probe by former Fort Myers Police Chief Donna Hansen. 

"People that need to be dismissed will be dismissed," Mayor Mara Giulianti told the Sun-Sentinel at the time.

It never happened.

Click here to read Aaronson's article.


-- Lt. Jeff Marano. That's all that needs to be said right now, and people who have been following the department already know about it. I'll explain more later, but for now, just read this report from Wyatt Olson and this one from Thomas Francis.

-- Female officer Cyndi Commela Ruiz gets pushed out of the force after testifying in a departmental harassement suit involving police officer Kevin Companion and high-ranking Hollywood police brass Louis Granteed. She says she was intimidated and told that she could "never leave the brotherhood of silence." From Aaronson's article:

The threat didn't work. Following the testimony of Ruiz and others, the city settled with Fortunato for $205,000. The harassment not only continued for Ruiz; it became worse, according to court documents. She found a snake in her mailbox at home. Sexually explicit graffiti about her was scrawled on the department's gas pumps. Officers refused to provide her with backup. A rock of crack cocaine was planted in her patrol car. While working a security detail at a movie theater on Sheridan Street, she received an anonymous phone call. "He said he was going to kill me at the end of my shift," she remembers.

Click here to read about it.

--  In 2007, the Federal Bureau of Investigation busts four Hollywood cops who had dreams of being in the Mafia. FBI Special Agent Jack Garcia posed as a Mafia crime boss and soon had four Hollywood cops -- the aforementioned Kevin Companion, Sgt. Jeff Courtney, Det. Thomas Simcox, and Ofc. Steven Harris -- eating out of his hand. The officers helped move drugs and stolen goods, took bribes, and committed other crimes for the fake Mafia team. Companion took $42,000 in payoffs from Garcia and voiced his hopes that he could become a "made" mobster (an impossibility because he was half-Irish). All four officers were eventually convicted and sentenced to prison, but the investigation was scuttled early after Hollywood Police Chief James Scarberry learned about it and told several of his underlings, including Louis Granteed, the Companion friend and fellow sexual harrasser who was then assistant chief of police.

''We were betrayed by the police chief,'' Garcia said after the Hollywood leak. ''Could have gotten me and my guys killed. The chief claimed he didn't believe there was corruption in his department.'' 

Thankfully the idiot Scarberry is gone, though, amazingly, Granteed remains in place as assistant police chief.