Fort Lauderdale Cops Face Life in Prison on a Gang of Charges; Two More Under Investigation
|Broward Sheriff's Office|
|Billy Koepke (left) and Brian Dodge|
Officers Brian Christopher Dodge and Billy Charles Koepke turned themselves in at the Broward County Jail last night on crimes the Broward State Attorney's Office says focused on stealing money and pills from pain clinic customers.
At a news conference this morning at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Tim Donnelly, the assistant state attorney in charge of public corruption, said there were more than 100 cases the two officers were involved in that had to be "taken care of," either by dropping or consolidating charges.
Two other cops are still under investigation, according to Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Franklin Adderley.
The investigation into the four Fort Lauderdale cops -- Dodge and Koepke, as well as Matthew Moceri and Michael Florenco -- was initiated after a defense attorney for two people arrested took a look at a surveillance video of his clients' arrest and found some "significant discrepancies" between the cops' stories and the tape.
According to an arrest affidavit released by the Broward State Attorney's Office, Dodge and Koepke, who were partners in the department's street crimes unit, did a traffic stop on a car on the afternoon of August 24, 2010.
The men pulled over in the car had just come back from a pain clinic, but the man prescribed the pills, Mark Mayer, had not yet filled the prescription.
Regardless, both of them were arrested by Dodge and Koepke, and Moceri showed up as a backup officer.
The cops searched the car without consent, told the driver to "get the fuck out of here," and were "threatening to imprison him if he did not 'set up' someone that did have drugs and money," the report states.
Dodge and Koepke then drove Mayer to a Red Roof Inn in Oakland Park, where he was staying at the time -- also outside of the cops' jurisdiction -- and searched his room without consent.
Mayer asked Moerci if they were allowed to do that, and the report says Moerci responded, "I wouldn't even go there with them right now. I'm not even going to tell them you asked me that because number one, we don't need a reason to go through your room; and number two, you're just going to piss them off even worse, so don't go there."
After not finding anything in the room, they drove Mayer to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and told him he would be jailed on a $500,000 bond and would face 25 years to life in prison -- unless he turned in "some people."
Mayer didn't have his phone, so the two cops picked up his "wife/girlfriend" -- whatever that means -- in Lauderhill, also out of their jurisdiction. Mayer's "wife/girlfriend" finally called a crack dealer after "verbally aggressive and intimidating" treatment from Dodge and Koepke.
On the surveillance video from the Red Roof Inn, it can be seen that two men, Junior Jerome and Dieudson Nore, parked their car and entered the lobby. Nore went to the bathroom, and Jerome went back outside -- where he was stopped by two unmarked cop cars.
Jerome later gave the cops a statement that he tried to leave and swallowed five crack rocks because he thought he saw a cop in the lobby, and both he and Nore were arrested.
Nore never had any crack, according to both his and Jerome's statements, and the video surveillance never showed police recovering anything after searching him.
Dodge and Koepke still tried to climb the drug-dealer ladder, telling Jerome to "give up" someone bigger or he and Nore would go to jail, the report says.
He didn't give up anyone and was taken to jail on charges of possession and possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine -- which would require at least an ounce of crack in their possession.
The report states that Moceri noted that if Jerome really just swallowed an ounce of crack, he'd probably need to go to the hospital. Meanwhile, Mayer was still in the back of Moceri's cop car -- where he'd been for more than an hour. Well, it was an hour until Moceri decided to leave and go make lunch for himself.
The video surveillance confirmed Mayer was still in the car while Moceri was spotted on surveillance video "eating something from a bowl" 3 1/2 hours after he was pulled over by Dodge and Koepke.
In Dodge and Koepke's reports, they wrote that they watched Nore drop crack on the floorboard of the car -- which never happened, since the tape showed he was arrested while inside the hotel lobby. The tape never showed the cops finding any crack on him either.
Dodge and Koepke also put $291 they had confiscated from the men into evidence, despite taking between $2,080 and $2,090 from them.
Mayer and his "wife/girlfriend" were still being held by the cops during this entire thing.
After several hours of trying to get them to set up drug deals, Dodge and Koepke let Mayer and the woman go, with no record of ever having them in custody or telling dispatch that they were driving them around.
On December 22, 2010, both Dodge and Koepke testified under oath that their report was 100 percent true and that they were the only officers involved -- despite witness testimony and video evidence that their story wasn't so true and that Moceri and Florenco participated in various ways throughout the event.
Under oath, Florenco said Dodge and Koepke's reports were false. He also said Dodge had informed him that he'd forged his signature to submit the report to records.
Florenco said he had searched Nore and didn't find drugs and "tore the bathroom apart" -- still without finding any drugs. He said he didn't know why Nore was arrested.
Florenco said that because he arrived as backup shortly before Dodge and Koepke started arresting people, he didn't know exactly what was going on.
Three extremely similar incidents are described in the report as well involving officers Dodge and Koepke, including bottles of pain pills that were taken by the officers that never made it to the evidence room.
At the news conference today, Donnelly refused to explain why the officers weren't facing any drug-related charges. He eventually said that they didn't have any evidence to substantiate the pill allegation and that they selected the charges his office would best be able to prove.
Still, the news release handed out this morning states the following: "According to documents filed with the Broward County Clerk of the Courts, 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."
As of yet, Donnelly says they haven't been able to substantiate any charges against Moceri and Florenco.
Chief Adderley's reaction to the arrests: "It's not a good thing, obviously."
Dodge and Koepke are charged with the following crimes: racketeering, kidnapping, extortion, two counts of false imprisonment, five counts of official misconduct, five counts of grand theft, and two counts of falsifying records. Dodge faces additional charges of forgery and perjury.
Adderley says there have been "a few complaints" against both of the officers before this mess, and Dodge has been suspended once before, in either 2005 or 2006.
Stay tuned to the Pulp for updates.
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