03/12/2007

2 Fla. officers resign following exposed corruption

By Wanda J. Demarzo
The Miami Herald

Two senior Hollywood patrol officers abruptly resigned from the force Friday, just two weeks after four officers were snared in a federal corruption probe.

Richard Friedman, 49, and Angel DeLaRosa, 48, both 27-year veterans, turned in their retirement papers Friday.

The two patrol officers, like others in the agency, are "disgusted and disheartened," by recent revelations of corruption, said police spokesman Capt. Tony Rode.

Neither officer could be reached for comment late Friday.

While their actions may raise eyebrows, there is no evidence to suggest that either officer was involved in any wrongdoing, Rode said.

"They are certainly upset that four of our officers were arrested," Rode said. "But they both officially retired two years ago and have been in the drop program since then."

Officials with the police union confirmed that the officers were not involved in the scandal.

"I know both of those officers, and I can guarantee that they weren't involved in the fiasco the other four were," said Police Benevolent Union attorney Barbara Duffy.

On Feb. 22, three veteran Hollywood officers — Kevin Companion, Stephen Harrison and Jeff Courtney — were arrested, accused of extortion, bribe-taking, dealing in stolen property, protecting a rigged, high-stakes card game, cargo theft and transporting a big shipment of heroin. Also implicated was officer Thomas Simcox, who turned himself in six days later.

The group was apprehended in an FBI sting in which agents posed as members of a New York mob family who wanted protection for Florida operations. Companion, the alleged ringleader, recruited the other three officers, authorities said.

But before the Feds could identify whether other officers were involved, they were forced to shut down the probe because Courtney and Companion learned about it.

Companion received the most money from the alleged illegal activity — $42,000 — while Simcox received $16,000, according to prosecutors.

The alleged incidents occurred between February 2004 and January of this year.

On Feb. 28, Simcox made his first appearance in federal court. He is the only one of the four cooperating with authorities.

Simcox is reputed to have approached a number of veteran officers hoping to hire them to work for the crime family, but the officers turned him down.

Hollywood Police Chief James Scarberry said an internal investigation will be launched once the FBI provides him with names and anyone found to be involved will face termination.

Miami Herald staff reporters Jennifer Lebovich, Amy Sherman and Todd Wright contributed to this report.

Copyright 2007 The Miami Herald

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