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

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He clung on for four years, resigning in 2004 to take a patrolman's job at the then-Chief Delsa Bush's West Palm Beach Police Department. There, Raja became quickly known as a gung-ho cop, an officer branded by the brass as a "worker" — someone who went all out to get the bad guy.

How he treated the good guy, however, appears to be a problem.

According to six years of West Palm Beach Police Department logs, Raja has been involved in 38 use-of-force incidents. He has been the target of 19 complaints from civilians, including a foreign motorist who said Raja told her to "go back where you came from"; a claim that he threw a suspect's cell phone away; and an accusation that he rifled through personal effects during a fire alarm at a day spa.

Raja has been the subject of seven internal-affairs investigations for anything from crashing his squad car to unprofessional conduct. Four of those investigations were found to be unsubstantiated, but three of them led to discipline, including a three-shift suspension for misusing his police radio.

In September 2007, Raja was involved in a middle-of-the-night car chase with suspected burglars. He claimed he was greeted with a hail of bullets when the bandits ditched their car and vanished. Afterward, he put his name in for the department's highest heroism award, the Combat Cross. Investigators found plenty of shell casings from Raja's service 9mm handgun. But they also found that Raja's gun battle may have been a little too one-sided. They found no proof that the suspects stuck around long enough to fire their weapons — if they had any. The Combat Cross application was denied.

Then there was the time in 2006 when internal affairs investigated Raja for his frequent visits to Relax With Us. The now-closed West Palm Beach massage parlor was deemed by police to be a "jack shack," an establishment in which bikini-clad girls performed massages that often ended with sex acts.

The Raja investigation was an offshoot of two others: One sent disgraced ex-West Palm Beach City Commissioner Ray Liberti to jail for shaking down the owners, and another ensnared Raja's friend and fellow cop Michael Ghent. Ghent also took cash from the owners, in addition to indulging in the offerings. Prosecutors eventually dropped the corruption charges when Ghent promised to give up his law enforcement license.

Raja? IA sleuths couldn't get him, although they wanted to. "We knew Sanjay hung out at Relax With Us because several of the girls picked his mug out of a lineup," said a former internal-affairs boss who asked not to be named. "We tried to catch him in a lie. When we questioned him, he claimed he only visited the jack shack when he was a Lake Worth Police officer." The sheriff's office had taken over the Lake Worth PD in 2008, so West Palm's internal affairs decided not to go after Raja for what he had done while working for a defunct agency.

Internal affairs would have its chance again to catch Raja in early 2011, but the cops couldn't get enough to get him fired.

Raja, however, did get suspended for three days without pay for what he did to Iorillo the day Iorillo showed up at the cop's home.

"I'm a police officer, and I just had someone arrested, fucking two days ago or last week, and he just showed up at my door," Raja's 911 call starts, seconds after Iorillo rang his doorbell in Wellington.

"Hey, man," Iorillo can be heard saying in the background, "I thought I was doing the right thing."

"Is he acting violent?" the operator asks.

"No, he's not," Raja replies.

The way Iorillo now explains it, he rang Raja's bell a few times then, thinking Raja wasn't home. He walked back toward his Cadillac parked curbside. A woman friend, Alexandra Pierce, waited for him in the passenger's seat and confirmed to New Times that she didn't see Iorillo step inside the officer's home. Raja came out of the house while talking to the 911 operator on his telephone and joined Iorillo on the front lawn.

Raja's version, recounted in an October 2009 deposition, was vastly different. Under oath, Raja contradicted what he told the 911 operator. He claimed a struggle took place inside his house after Iorillo opened the front door, uninvited.

"Everything happened so fast," a heroic-sounding Raja told Kevin Anderson, Iorillo's attorney at the time of the deposition. "He is coming into the house, he's pulling up his arm, and he's saying 'Officer Raja.' " He claimed Scott turned aggressive and grabbed his left arm. "I snapped out of my posture and started punching him in his face," Raja said. "I'm punching him, and he's trying to strike back. He hit me on my arm."

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Jose Lambiet
Contact: Jose Lambiet