Four Hollywood Florida Police Officers Take Step Toward Corruption Plea Deals

HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA – Four Hollywood police officers arrested in an FBI corruption sting took a key step Thursday toward reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors on drug conspiracy charges.Although all four pleaded not guilty at a brief hearing, they also waived their right to have the case heard by a grand jury and agreed that prosecutors could file the charges through an “information” rather than an indictment.That usually means the case is headed for a plea agreement in return for a defendant’s cooperation. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Seltzer asked if that was the case regarding the four officers.“Yes, your honor,” replied Edward Stamm, the assistant U.S. attorney handling the case.Neither the officers nor their lawyers would confirm possible guilty pleas.“I don’t think now is the time to comment on that,” said attorney Edward O’Donnell Jr., who represents Officer Stephen Harrison, 46.But Hollywood Police Chief James Scarberry said he expected all four to enter guilty pleas, which he said would be “a big step” in the department’s effort to get over what he called “a kick in the gut” that followed the arrests.“We are taking a big hit because of the actions of these four members,” Scarberry said in a telephone interview. “I don’t think these four have information on anything else, because I don’t think there is anything else.”The other three charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute heroin are Detective Kevin Companion, 41; Sgt. Jeffry Courtney, 51; and Detective Thomas Simcox, 50. Court papers say Companion was the leader who recruited the other three to do illegal work for men they thought were part of a New York mob family.In reality, the “mobsters” were undercover FBI agents. In addition to providing protection and escort for a purported multi-kilo load of heroin, court papers say the officers were involved in what they thought was illegal gambling, stolen diamonds, watches and cigarettes in return for payments of a few thousand dollars each.The drug charge carries a possible life prison sentence, but the officers would probably serve between nine and 14 years behind bars under federal guidelines.In the interview, Scarberry also defended his decision to tell Hollywood officials and his senior command staff about the FBI probe a few weeks before the arrests were made. The investigation was shut down prematurely because of a leak, but Scarberry said he did nothing wrong.“I didn’t do anything to jeopardize the integrity of this investigation and neither did anybody on my staff,” he said. “I don’t think anybody disclosed any information whatsoever.” Appeared Here,