Fatal Attraction: A Cop Gets Tangled Up With a Pair of Addicts, and Things Turn Violent

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The young woman was taken by helicopter to Delray Medical Center. She died the following day in room 293 without regaining consciousness.

Her suicide, however, kicked off a strange and convoluted series of events that would eventually throw Scott Iorillo across West Palm cop Sanjay Raja's path again. In time, it would end up costing Iorillo two years of freedom. It would also expose Raja as a cop with a history of problems and whose apparent lies could have sent Iorillo to prison for the rest of his life.

Scott Alan Iorillo didn't see Sanjay Raja again over the next 16 months, a period during which Iorillo sank deeper into drug quicksand.

Then, shortly after 11 a.m. on March 13, 2009, Iorillo stood on the front steps of the West Palm Police officer's 1,600-square-foot suburban stucco home.

He'd driven his 2000 Cadillac Eldorado through the quiet Oak Chase Court development in Wellington after kids helped him key in the secret code to a security gate. And clearly, Iorillo had no business wanting to meet with Sanjay at his house without prior permission. Five days earlier, after all, Sanjay had arrested Iorillo for possession of cocaine.

Iorillo swears there was method to his madness. He claims Sanjay promised to make him an informant during the March 8 bust so that Iorillo could "work off" the charges and avoid jail — just as Sanjay supposedly had done for Passi months before her suicide.

Besides, Iorillo said, it wasn't the first time he was at Sanjay's house, and vice versa: "Sanjay came to my house on Charlee to pick up Passi at least twice. I dropped her off at his house in Wellington several times. We weren't complete strangers. I was in the car when he arrested Christina in 2007."

Iorillo was right to worry about staying out of the slammer. His criminal history made him the kind of neighbor who's never asked to watch the kids for an hour. Palm Beach County court records show he was arrested eight times in 2008 and 2009 on charges ranging from battery to possession of cocaine.

And when he was arrested by Sanjay on March 8, Iorillo was on probation for a 2008 misdemeanor conviction. He had beaten a woman over $100 to buy cocaine.

Now, Iorillo faced at least a year in a state prison.

"I was in a panic because I couldn't get ahold of Sanjay at the police department," Iorillo said. He acknowledges he was still getting high at that time. "I didn't want to go to jail for years. I wanted to get with him before the charges were formally filed. I figured I needed to get ahold of him quickly, so I went to his house twice. The first time, I called him from the gate, and he didn't pick up."

Iorillo's descent into the life of a druggie worried only about his next high was a swift one. In 2006, he was still a married suburban father of three making hundreds of thousands a year selling extended warranties for cars. But his addiction, he says, cost him his business, family, home, and, eventually, his good name.

And for that, he blames Passi.

"Christina is the one who got me into crack," Iorillo said recently. He's sitting in a Starbucks on Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach. Wearing a camouflage T-shirt and sporting a military-style haircut, the pudgy Iorillo is sipping on iced decaf as he talks. Pockmarks on his face betray his past as a substance abuser.

"I met her at a party. Somehow, she got my number and started calling me. She was hot, and she liked to get high, and I had a lot of money. She started living with me about a year before her suicide. She wanted me to do crack with her, and she was very persuasive."

Which sparked Iorillo to wonder: "Why would any cop hang out with her?"

Sanjay Raja, 35, police badge number 1663, enrolled in the now-defunct Lake Worth Police Department in 1999. He was hired despite a background check that turned up an arrest.

Raja was a 17-year-old senior at the John I. Leonard High School in Greenacres when he admitted to helping a friend break into a Mustang parked off I-95 in Palm Beach Gardens. He successfully completed a juvenile delinquent rehab program, and his records were supposed to have been purged, according to Lake Worth Police archives.

Within two weeks of his October 1999 hire, probationary cop Raja was fired by then-Chief William Smith for "failure to meet standards." Smith didn't go into details in his termination letter, but archives showed he may have lied about the car-burglary arrest during his interview.

Strangely, in February 2000, Raja was rehired by the Lake Worth PD after he applied anew for a police job. And this time, his FDLE background check didn't turn up his juvenile arrest. And, according to his application, Raja didn't report his arrest — as mandated by law.

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Jose Lambiet
Contact: Jose Lambiet