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Cops 'n' Doughnuts: Did Frank Adderley's Free Meals Violate Ethics Rules?

How many free steak dinners does it take to corrupt a chief of police?

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is "still weighing" whether to investigate Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley's relationship with Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein. The stink arose over claims that Adderley was so enmeshed with Rothstein that, on Rothstein's behalf, he actually showed up and interfered with the investigation of a traffic accident. It looks bad, and so do the other gifts Adderley may have scooped up on Rothstein's dime: luxury seats at Dolphins games and lavish meals at "The Jewish Avenger"'s restaurant, Bova Prime, where a steak dinner with a couple of drinks would likely run more than 100 bucks.

As Bob Norman reported on the Pulp last week, a source told Norman that Adderley "ate and drank for free at Bova Prime several nights a week. It was always on Scott. Always." Anthony McDermott, who'd sold the restaurant to Rothstein, told Norman that Adderley regularly showed up at Bova Prime and got "shitfaced."

Ethics policies vary from department to department. We've requested FLPD policy on the matter and haven't heard back yet. But the Broward Sheriff's Office has written ethics rules, and we can assume they're in the same ballpark (Thanks, JK, for catching this). The Sheriff's Policy Manual has this to say about officers' accepting gifts and gratuities:

Item 2.23.3 (B): "Employees will not accept special treatment, gifts, gratuities, or other benefits which they did not solicit from any person or business establishment when it is given fully or partially due to their BSO association."

And further: 2.23.3 (D): "Employees will immediately notify their supervisor of any offer or special treatment, gift, gratuity, or other benefit which they did not solicit, that is made in an effort to affect their official conduct."

And then we come to the sticking point:

(E) "This policy does not prevent employees from receiving special treatment, gifts, gratuities, or other benefits available to the public."

The Broward Sheriff's policy is open to interpretation. It would preclude, say, cops eating free cinnamon twirls if they were the only ones singled out for the treatment at Dunkin' Donuts. It would frown on our men in blue accepting special discounts from restaurants just because they happened to be wearing badges. But in the case of cops sucking down free martinis at Bova Prime, the policy is a lot sketchier.

Lots of people ate and drank for free at Bova Prime, and they weren't all police chiefs. Rothstein wined and dined his pals and hangers-on indiscriminately: clients he was hoping to screw, bigwigs he wanted to impress, bodyguards, politicians, maybe a Jersey mobster or two. As many sources have noted, it seemed like half the people eating at Bova Prime on any given night were running on Rothstein's tab.

Did Rothstein want to influence Adderley's "official conduct"? Well, hell yeah. But you'd have a hard time proving it. Maybe the man was just incredibly generous, right?

Still, a chief of police should fly way above such speculation, whatever his manual says. Part of Adderley's job is to provide a clear example of upright behavior to his subordinates. He has to remain impartial in the enforcement of the law, and the more free steak he eats, the cloudier his judgment gets about the people providing all that delicious red meat. Adderley himself said it all in his prepared statement about Rothstein:

"Like many people I was surprised to learn about the criminal allegations. If I had known or suspected that Scott Rothstein was taking part in illegal activity; I would have initiated an investigation and certainly would not have associated with him."

Yeah, it's hard to focus on "illegal activity" when you're too blotto to focus on your own shoe. The sad part of all this is how easily Adderley, who ought to have understood the criminal mind better than anybody,  was duped -- all it took was a box seat at the game and an endless supply of top-shelf booze and quality protein.

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Gail Shepherd
Contact: Gail Shepherd

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