Pubdate: Sat, 24 Mar 2007
Source: Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Copyright: 2007 Sun-Sentinel Company
Author: John Holland
Bookmark: (Heroin)


HOLLYWOOD Police Officer Kevin Companion discussed a string of crimes 
with an undercover FBI agent and bragged that he had friends high up 
in the department who would help him quietly retire if caught, Chief 
James Scarberry said.

Companion, accused with three other officers of running heroin, 
protecting gambling operations and smuggling stolen diamonds, named 
Major Louis Granteed and Capt. Tony Rode as the officers who would 
persuade Scarberry to let him resign without further investigation, 
the chief said.

In a lengthy, wide-ranging interview last week, Scarberry called the 
comments, captured by FBI surveillance tape, 'unbelievably stupid," 
adding that both men were disgusted by Companion's alleged crimes.

'Those comments just show the mentality of Kevin Companion. It 
doesn't reflect at all on Louie or Tony, because they would never 
have tolerated this if they knew what was going on. I trust both of 
them completely," Scarberry said.

Scarberry said he viewed some tapes in late January and was told 
about others by FBI agents hoping to expand their investigation. He 
immediately informed Granteed, an assistant chief, and other top 
commanders about the operation, saying they needed to know.

Last month FBI agents charged Companion, Officers Thomas Simcox and 
Steve Harrison and Sgt. Jeff Courtney with escorting drug shipments, 
laundering stolen jewelry and bearer bonds and protecting a crooked 
card game on a yacht, among other crimes.

All of their dealings were with FBI agents posing as mobsters, and 
most transactions were videotaped.

Scarberry also said he knew who leaked the information that caused 
FBI agents to prematurely end their probe into possible widespread 
corruption in the department. He insisted the leak didn't come from 
anyone on his staff or in the city, but wouldn't provide details.

And Scarberry said he has no plans to investigate other members of 
his department who may have been caught on tape or were mentioned by 
the four officers as potential partners in future crimes. He said he 
believes the four accused officers had not committed any crimes other 
than those conceived, arranged and videotaped by federal agents 
during a two-year sting.

'Unless some very unexpected information comes to us from the FBI, I 
think it's going to end with these four," Scarberry said. 'There are 
other officers whose names were mentioned during some of the 
conversations, things like this guy or that guy could help them with 
some of the criminal activity. I think they were just bragging."

Rode, who wasn't told because that wasn't his chain of command, 
referred all questions to Scarberry. Granteed said he would never 
protect dishonest officers.

'I had no idea they were doing anything like this and wouldn't put up 
with it," Granteed said. 'Kevin is a friend, but I've come this far 
in my career by being honest and having the trust of the chief and my 
fellow officers."

The tape shows Companion talking to FBI agents he thought were 
members of a New York crime family, Scarberry said.

'[Companion] just says if he walks in to my office and sees two 
meatballs -- talking about FBI agents -- sitting there, Louie and 
Tony would talk to me so he could turn in his papers and just 
retire," Scarberry said. 'That's how stupid Kevin is if he thinks 
that would ever happen. The FBI agents made it clear that [Companion] 
never approached either one of them."

In late January federal agents turned Simcox into a cooperating 
witness to search for what they called other crooked cops in the 
department, according to federal investigators and Scarberry.

Simcox worked in the department for about three weeks as an 
undercover informant before Courtney and Companion found out about 
the investigation around Feb. 22, a day before federal prosecutors 
announced the charges.

'I know where the leak came from. Jeff Courtney knows who the leak 
is, and he's going to tell the FBI, and that will be it," said 
Scarberry, who told Mayor Mara Giulianti, City Manager Cameron Benson 
and several senior officers about the investigation. 'It didn't come 
from anyone in this department, or anyone in the city of Hollywood. 
That I know for sure.'

Courtney's lawyer took issue with Scarberry's version of the leak.

'I mean no disrespect to the chief, I don't know where he got that 
information," attorney Mel Black said. 'There are certain assumptions 
that might be mistaken."

An FBI spokeswoman said she could not comment. Companion's lawyer 
could not be reached Friday.

According to federal prosecutors and the FBI arrest affidavit, the 
four officers occasionally did work for what they believed to be 
mobsters over a period of about two years, sometimes with lengthy 
gaps between jobs.

Scarberry said he has no interest in trying to find out if the 
officers committed other crimes when they weren't under FBI surveillance.

'This went on for two years ... and the only actual times they did 
anything wrong, according to the [arrest affidavit] was when the FBI 
was setting up things for them to do," Scarberry said. 'No, I'm not 
worried at all. I just don't have any reason to believe they were 
involved in anything else, and there's no indication anyone else on 
the department was involved."

Granteed, the assistant chief, said Friday there are no dishonest 
cops left in the entire department and any further investigation is 

'There was no corruption in our agency until the FBI brought the 
corruption to our agency," Granteed said. 'All four of the officers 
have been working a long time and have outstanding performance 
records. They should have just said no."
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