A Broward Sheriff's Office internal investigation into special treatment given to a Miami Dolphin player charged with battering his pregnant girlfriend is focusing on a BSO commander who moonlights as a security specialist for the football team, the Pulp has learned.
Sheriff Al Lamberti called a news conference yesterday to denounce the "indefensible" favors given by his agency to three-year NFL defensive end Phillip Merling, who was arrested early Thursday morning on a felony domestic violence charge. The 25-year-old Merling, who joined the Dolphins in 2008, was ushered by deputies out of the Broward County Jail through a side door to avoid waiting media and was given a ride home by an unidentified BSO employee.
The investigation appears to be centering on BSO Commander Alvin Pollock, who oversees the Broward County Courthouse. Pollock confirmed this morning in a phone call with the Pulp that he works for the Dolphins, conducting security for games and performing other duties. Thickening the plot is the fact that Pollock, according to an internal BSO publication, is the brother-in-law of BSO Maj. Keith Neely, who supervises jail operations.
"I didn't help anybody," said Pollock, a veteran deputy who is popular among judges and once served as a personal assistant to former Sheriff Nick Navarro. "I would love to talk to you about this, but I
can't get into it right now. There will be an appropriate time to comment, and I will definitely talk with you then."
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Pollock was promoted to sergeant in 1992 by Navarro shortly after Navarro was defeated at the polls by Ron Cochran. For years, he worked as a vice detective, going after drug dealers and prostitutes.
His only real trouble came in 1997, when he was one of four law enforcement officers removed from a DEA task force after allegations that drug money had been stolen. He was apparently cleared of any wrongdoing and has since gone to win awards and distinctions. Disgraced former Sheriff Ken Jenne promoted him to commander and put him in charge of the courthouse, where sources described him a "go-to guy" for judges.
Did Pollock pull strings with his brother-in-law Maj. Neely to help Merling avoid the cameras and get a ride home? The investigation will have to answer those questions -- and it's one that clearly has the sheriff's personal interest. Lamberti, who has made domestic violence a priority at his agency, is furious that his agency "enabled" an accused domestic offender.
"We're not in the business of giving people we arrest for felonies a ride home," Lamberti said yesterday during his news conference.