LAWFUEL – US Legal News – Hollywood Police Officers Kevin Companion, Jeffry Courtney, Thomas Simcox and Stephen Harrison were charged in a complaint unsealed today with extortion and narcotics charges, announced R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office. Specifically, the complaint charges the defendants with conspiring and attempting to commit extortion under color of official right by accepting bribes to protect and facilitate what was represented to be a wide range of criminal activities, including the sale and interstate transportation of stolen property, a crooked high stakes gambling operation, cargo theft, and the transportation of a multi-kilogram load of heroin, all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951. The defendants were also charged with conspiring and attempting to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, for their roles in protecting a heroin shipment.
The charges against these four Hollywood Police Officers arose from a two-year undercover investigation jointly conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the complaint, Companion, a 20-year veteran of the Hollywood Police Department, Courtney, a 15-year veteran of the Department, Simcox, a 24-year veteran of the Department, and Harrison, an 8-year veteran of the Department, provided a variety of illegal services to a group of individuals who represented themselves to be part of a New York-based criminal organization which was looking to recruit police officers to protect and facilitate their illegal operations. In reality, however, these individuals were FBI undercover agents, and the purported criminal activities were all staged operations done as part of the investigation.
In exchange for cash payments, the defendants were involved in the following criminal activities: Companion protected the collection of an illegal gambling debt and the fencing of stolen watches; Companion and Courtney protected a sale of $400,000 worth of stolen diamonds, and personally delivered $400,000 worth of stolen bearer bonds from Florida to New York City; Companion, Courtney, Simcox, and Harrison all participated in providing protection for a high-stakes rigged poker game staged on a yacht; Companion, Courtney, and Simcox delivered $1,000,000 worth of stolen diamonds from Florida to Atlantic City, New Jersey; Companion, Courtney, Simcox and Harrison all protected the theft of a tractor-trailer load of cigarettes; Companion and Harrison delivered a load of valuable stolen artwork from Florida to Atlantic City; and finally, Companion, Courtney, Simcox, and Harrison provided a security escort for the transportation of a multi-kilo load of heroin from Miami Beach to Hollywood, Florida, for further delivery to the criminal organization up north. The defendants would be paid in cash at the conclusion of each criminal episode in which they participated, and as a result of their criminal activities, they received the following approximate total amounts: Companion – $42,000; Courtney – $22,000; Simcox – $16,000; and Harrison – $12,000.
As explained in the complaint, Companion was the leader of this group of corrupt officers, recruiting the other defendants as more officers were needed to protect and facilitate the purported illegal activities of the New York organization. As set out in the complaint, at various times during these criminal episodes, the defendants talked about how they could and would use their positions and experience as police officers to advance and ensure the success of these illegal activities.
All defendants face maximum sentences of life in prison and fines of up to $4,000,000 if convicted of the drug trafficking charges. In addition, they face up to 20 years in prison for each alleged violation of the Hobbs Act by extortion under color of official right.
U. S. Attorney Alex Acosta stated, “Police officers, like elected officials, hold a particular position of trust. Today, four police officers stand accused of violating that trust, again and again. These four police officers are accused of using their badge, in exchange for money, to ensure the success of the same criminal activities they were sworn to prevent. These four police officers, however, are not representative of the men and women who police South Florida. The vast majority of the men and women of policing are committed to providing their best efforts, and sometimes their life, to keep us safe, and deserve our deep gratitude and respect. The acts of a few individuals should not change this.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Solomon stated, “Police officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve their community and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. Unfortunately, on occasion, there are individuals who betray the public’s trust. In such instances, those identified will be held accountable.”
Mr. Acosta commended the efforts of the numerous special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who have been working on this investigation. In addition, Mr. Acosta thanked Hollywood Police Chief James Scarberry for his cooperation during this investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Edward N. Stamm.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.