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Two Fort Lauderdale cops surrender, accused of serious misconduct..


OFF THE WIRE
By Paula McMahon and Tony Alanez
Fort Lauderdale police detectives Billy Koepke, center, and Brian Dodge, right, are booked into the Broward County jail Thursday night on various felony charges. Two Fort Lauderdale police officers, accused of stealing drugs and cash from pain clinic customers, turned themselves in at the Broward Main Jail Thursday night.

Detectives Billy Koepke and Brian Dodge, both members of the Street Crimes Unit, have been under investigation for months. The unit is better known by its old name: the Raiders.

The two are charged with racketeering, kidnapping, grand theft, extortion and official misconduct, prosecutors said. Both officers face at least 15 criminal counts each.

"Officers Dodge and Koepke were involved in an 'ongoing pattern of criminal conduct' that focused on stealing money and pills from patrons of pain clinics," said Ron Ishoy, a spokesman for Broward State Attorney Mike Satz.

The FBI and Fort Lauderdale Police Department conducted the investigation with state prosecutors, Ishoy said. Arrest documents and full details of the allegations were not immediately available.

A news conference is scheduled for Friday morning at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Koepke, 32, and Dodge, 30, looked solemn as they surrendered at main jail in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Accompanied by arresting officers or agents, they walked in through the back of the jail.

Their attorneys shook the detectives' hands and patted them on the back, then the officers walked into the jail together, leaving their lawyers outside.

"We've seen no warrant, we've seen no evidence, we've seen nothing," said Mike Dutko, Dodge's lawyer. "Until then, I'm not prepared to make any comment."

Koepke's lawyer, James Stark, echoed Dutko's remarks.

Neither officer responded to questions posed by a reporter at the jail.

Both officers have been on paid suspension from their jobs since April 18, police officials said. They are both paid $75,878 a year.
The detectives came under scrutiny after a hotel security video was found that contradicted their versions of two arrests they made at a Red Roof Inn in Oakland Park.

Among the allegations leveled against the officers were that they kidnapped a man and lied about cases, the Sun Sentinel reported last week.

A police corruption task force, made up of Fort Lauderdale officers and FBI agents, turned up evidence that Koepke and Dodge claimed they found crack cocaine on a man who had none and stole several thousand dollars that should have been turned over as evidence, sources said.

Two other officers who have been suspended in the same investigation have not been criminally charged.

Detective Matthew Moceri, 28, was still under investigation last week, his lawyer said.

Earlier this month, prosecutors cleared Michael Florenco, a 34-year-old sergeant in the unit, of criminal misconduct. Florenco has not been allowed to return to work because of questions about whether he violated department rules and policies.

According to the Red Roof Inn's security video, the four officers were at the hotel about 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 24, 2010, when two men, Junior Jerome and Dieudson Nore, were arrested on charges of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.

An arrest form filed by Koepke and Dodge said they arrested the driver and his passenger after they saw both men drop crack cocaine to the floor of their 2010 Hyundai.

The detectives said the men came to the hotel on Powerline Road south of Commercial Boulevard to deliver drugs to the officers' "informational source."

But according to documents filed March 15 by Broward prosecutors when they dropped the criminal charges against Jerome and Nore, video footage from the hotel's lobby and parking lot showed that the so-called "passenger" was not in the vehicle and was arrested in the lobby.

The video contradicted the officers' written reports as well as a sworn statement that Dodge gave about the arrest, court records show.

Dodge testified that there wasn't anything unusual about the case, that only he and Koepke were present for the arrest, that the officers did not run up to the vehicle, and that they didn't have their guns out.

The video footage contradicted all of that, prosecutors wrote in their memo dismissing the charges.

"Based on the inconsistencies between the surveillance video and sworn officer testimony, the officers' credibility has been diminished," prosecutors wrote, adding they could not go forward with the case in good faith. Dodge was not able to explain those inconsistencies, the prosecutors wrote.

Internal affairs reports show Dodge was suspended without pay for a day in 2006 after an allegation was sustained that he had sought a "special privilege" or used his position on several occasions between October 2004 and March 2006 to fix $150 worth of parking citations issued to his friend. A complaint that Dodge violated the department's rules on working an off-duty detail for a private business was also sustained, records show.

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/crime/two-fort-lauderdale-cops-surrender-accused-of-serious-1950276.html


Sun Sentinel

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