Despite Decades of Corruption Allegations, Is the Riviera Beach Police Department Clean?

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Seven years passed, and the scandals quieted down. Then Michael McAuliffe was elected to replace Krischer as state attorney, and he was ready to go hunting in Riviera Beach.

One of Assistant Chief Harris' favorite cops was Sgt. Pat Galligan. Beefy, with a brown mustache and a generous paunch, 56-year-old Galligan had joined the force in 1986 and eventually became head of the detective bureau. His job philosophy predated political correctness, and he teased people relentlessly, with the best digs reserved for the people Galligan liked most. He nicknamed an officer with a bowler's gut "Table for Five." Detective Lee Ann Schneider, who often brought snacks to keep in her file cabinet, was "Out to Lunch."

Sometimes, the cavalier attitude backfired. In 1996, Galligan was caught on video posting newspaper articles that were critical of a lieutenant in the lineup room. He was reprimanded and put on paid leave for seven months. Later, he won a lawsuit alleging that the videotapes used to catch him were illegally recorded.

The reprimand never hurt Galligan. Instead, he became one of the most popular men on the force. He served many years as public information officer. In the late '90s, he won a statewide award from the Florida branch of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for his work investigating crimes against kids. In 2003, his department bestowed on him the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award, a Commendation Certificate for Outstanding Achievements and Performance. Married with two kids, Galligan seemed destined to spend his last years on the squad comfortably.

He oversaw the detective bureau, which handles all major crimes — homicides, rapes, robberies, child abuse. Seven people juggled a workload that would overwhelm a squad three times as large.

To relieve stress, Galligan cast himself as the funnyman, teasing his employees and never keeping them on a tight leash. "Galligan was a loose type of supervisor," says retired officer Sessa.

Schneider — AKA "Out to Lunch" — was one of Galligan's biggest fans. "He picked on Schneider more than anybody," Sessa says. But Schneider didn't seem to mind. "She loved Pat Galligan, and she's still standing by him to this day," Sessa says.

Schneider, 43, had been hired in Riviera Beach in 2002, just as the Harris FDLE investigation was ending. In the D-Bureau, Schneider became the mother hen, Sessa says, feeding people and watching out for them. She was single and married to her job, working reams of overtime. She needed the extra money, but she was also helping kids who were abused or neglected and women who were beaten or raped. She earned about $47,000 a year. Her reviews were mostly glowing, and Lt. Larry Payne told the FBI she was a "great employee" who "is rough around the edges but a good detective."

Not everyone found her style endearing, however. Passaro, one of the Musketeers, would tell the FBI she was "loud, obnoxious, and sometimes out of control."

Her close relationship with Galligan would soon land her in a hot seat.

In 2008, Galligan's base salary was $60,000, and he earned an additional $35,400 in overtime. The next year, he got a slight raise and earned $24,000 in overtime. Such large sums raised concerns among the city's penny pinchers. By July 2009, the Police Department was $200,000 beyond its overtime budget.

The Musketeers noticed Galligan's mounting pay stubs. They were annoyed that a boss could sit at home and field their phone calls, then submit overtime as if he'd worked the night. Passaro said he had only once seen Galligan out at a crime scene after 11 p.m.

Vance was so bothered by Galligan's overtime routine that he mentioned it when complaining to an FBI agent about Toombs in March 2009. The agent's ears perked up, and Vance assured him that other detectives could attest to Galligan's largess.

Schneider, ever the dutiful employee, allegedly took care of Galligan's paperwork. Musketeer Borrows said Schneider admitted to him that she signed Galligan's name to official documents, a violation of department rules. Galligan defended her, saying the process was justified because she would read him documents over the phone.

In May 2009, Borrows worked all night on an attempted murder case. Processing the case required him to call Galligan about three times during that shift. When he returned to the office the next morning, he submitted an overtime slip for two and a half hours of extra labor. He spotted Galligan in the office wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Despite the fact that he hadn't even driven out to the crime scene, the sergeant submitted overtime paperwork — for five hours of extra work on Borrows' case. Borrows was livid. He reported the incident to the FBI.

On August 25, 2009, the State Attorney's Office and the FBI, having considered both the complaint about Toombs possibly tipping off a suspect and the alleged overtime scandal, executed a search warrant on the Riviera Beach Police Department. Harris and other higher-ups sealed the cabinets in the D-Bureau with crime-scene tape, treating their own headquarters like the scene of a homicide. The entire squad was moved to different offices for months while investigators rifled through files. There were no arrests that day, but the State Attorney's Office began issuing subpoenas.

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Lisa Rab
Contact: Lisa Rab