BOYNTON BEACH -- The police officer who handled the infamous Black Widow murder-for-hire plot is under investigation after images that might be child pornography were found on his department laptop computer, a city source said.
Road Patrol Sgt. Frank Ranzie, 48, who joined the Boynton Beach Police Department in August 1988, remains on full duty, the source said. Ranzie could not be reached.
According to the city source, Ranzie brought his laptop in for service within the last month after it was discovered to have a virus, and pornographic images were found on it.
The department couldnt immediately determine whether the people in the images were adults.
Police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater confirmed the department turned the computer over to the Palm Beach County Sheriffs Office for analysis.
The city source said the sheriffs office handed it off to the public integrity unit of the Palm Beach County State Attorneys Office.
Sheriffs spokeswoman Teri Barbera could not confirm the departments involvement Monday night.
The source said even if the people in the images are found to be adults, Ranzie could still be disciplined by the department for storing pornographic images on a city laptop.
Slater said the citys internal affairs unit does not investigate allegations of crime. It investigates violations of departmental policy. There is an active internal affairs investigation, and state statute prohibits me from commenting further.
Slater did not have access Monday evening to Ranzies personnel file but said hes received dozens of awards and commendations during his tenure.
Ranzie, who spent four years as a New York City Housing Authority policeman before joining Boynton Beach police, was promoted to sergeant in 1992. In 1994, he was honored by the Partnership for a Drug-Free Community and United Way of Palm Beach County for spearheading the citys Public Housing Drug Elimination Program.
In 2001, Ranzie was arrested on charges he molested a 13-year-old girl. Ranzie adamantly denied the girls claim and prosecutors didnt charge him, saying they found evidence the girl might have made up the story. The following year, a judge agreed to expunge all records of the arrest. A police internal investigation cleared Ranzie but he was demoted. He was again promoted to sergeant in 2006.
In December 2003, Ranzie received a four-day suspension without pay after he and a Palm Beach County Sheriffs deputy sheriff who was a former Boynton Beach officer visited a Boynton Beach strip club while on duty. That same month, Ranzie received a two-day suspension for telling two officers who had been nervous about posing as prostitutes in a sting operation to drink alcohol before their shifts in order to relax.
Ranzies moment of national fame came in August 2009, when he and other Boynton Beach officers concocted an elaborate sting that led to the arrest of 26-year-old newlywed Dalia Dippolito.
Investigators said she offered a hit man in truth an undercover detective $6,000 to murder Michael Dippolito, then 38, her husband of six months.
Undercover police video that went viral on the Internet showed Dippolito showing up at her apartment after a morning gym workout and wailing when Ranzie told her that her husband was dead. Later, at police headquarters, police showed Dippolito her husband, alive and well, and arrested her. She later was convicted but has appealed.