Broward County

Broward department botched 82 child rape, other cases

Former Coconut Creek Detective Tammy Alois.
Former Coconut Creek Detective Tammy Alois.

The Coconut Creek police botched dozens of criminal cases involving disturbing reports about children who were raped or abused and seniors who were neglected or exploited.

The 82 “special victims” cases from 2010-2012 were the focus of a trio of internal police investigations and part of another, more wide-ranging investigation by the Broward state attorney’s office of Coconut Creek Police Chief Michael Mann. The probe ended in October without charges.

What happened in Coconut Creek has remained largely hidden from public view.

The detective assigned to each of those 82 cases was Tammy Kilgore Alois. According to city and state documents obtained by FloridaBulldog.org, Alois’ failings included not interviewing victims and witnesses, mishandling evidence and neglecting to write reports or present cases to Broward prosecutors.

“The cases that Detective Alois was primarily assigned to were ‘high liability cases that typically involved juvenile victims,” says one internal police report. “Failure to follow up or complete these types of cases in a timely manner can greatly affect the level of solvability, successful prosecution and, most importantly, put other members of the community at risk.”

Alois’ Police Benevolent Association attorney, Michael Braverman, did not respond to a request for comment.

Alois was fired in August 2013, but not for neglecting her cases.

A last chance

She was dismissed for violating a “Last Chance Agreement” that the city gave her five months earlier in lieu of termination after she admitted to mishandling “numerous” investigations, and to prescription drug abuse. The violation was for failing to write a report about a burglary after she had been transferred to road patrol.

Alois’ discipline for bungling 82 “high liability” cases: a four-week suspension without pay — the most allowed under restrictions agreed to by the city in its contract with the Broward PBA.

Then-City Manager David Rivera signed the last chance agreement after Chief Mann decided not to recommend Alois’ dismissal. In an interview Monday, Mann said he made no recommendation because the city manager told him beforehand that he wouldn’t terminate Alois.

“The city manager had the ultimate decision. When he tells you he is not going to terminate, it makes no difference what my recommendation was,” Mann said. “He didn’t say why.”

The Broward state attorney’s office did not investigate Alois for possible criminal misconduct in the matter.

Police records contain no indication that department officials who failed to notice or take action about what was happening during the three years that Alois neglected her cases were disciplined, or even investigated.

However, Mann said Alois’ boss in the detective bureau, Lt. Scott Tabel, was “basically let go” by the city in part because of what had occurred.

Tabel is today a police officer with the Palm Beach School district. He said in an interview Tuesday that he retired from Coconut Creek police after 21 years of service and that Alois had nothing to do with it.

Alois loses job

Alois was hired in 1995 and promoted to detective in 2010. She appealed her termination, but lost in a decision handed down by arbitrator James L. Reynolds on Dec. 26.

Police records document case after case of neglected crimes.

A sampling:

▪  Jan. 26, 2012: A 39-year-old man allegedly committed sexual battery on a girl, 15, in Coconut Creek and in other jurisdictions. Alois took a video statement from the victim, but did not complete a report indicating that, and also failed to book the DVD into the Property and Evidence Unit. After Detective Alois was reassigned to road patrol in May 2012, another detective got a message “from the victim’s mother stating that she did not want to follow through with setting up a SATC [Sexual Assault Treatment Center] appointment for her daughter because Det. Alois had allegedly told her that no new information would come from it. … The victim’s mother also indicated that her daughter was doing much better and did not want to pursue the case any further.”

▪  March 15, 2011: City patrol officers responded to an allegation that an adult male, a former neighbor, had sexually battered a 10-year-old boy on three separate occasions. Alois interviewed the victim on video, but the DVD was not entered into evidence. She filed no report to indicate she had obtained the statement, nor did she send the case for further review. After Alois’ reassignment, another Coconut Creek detective contacted the boy’s father, who became “extremely upset and has refused to answer any more calls.”

▪ Nov. 2, 2010: Patrol officers took a report that a 16-year-old male sexually assaulted a 4-year-old boy and also showed pornographic movies and exposed himself to other juveniles ranging in age from 2 to 12. Alois was assigned the case for 554 days, until her transfer out of the detective bureau in May 2012. During that time she never interviewed the child victim. Another detective later reported the boy had completed therapy, and that “the family did not want the child to have to rehash the incident, since he was no longer talking about it.”

Missing reports

Police records supervisor Linda Tropepe first noticed a problem with Alois’ cases in late 2011 or early 2012, notifying Alois’s supervisor, Lt. Tabel, that reports were missing in about 25 of her cases, according to one internal report prepared by Lt. Robert Wehmeyer.

At the time, Alois was a high-profile detective. On April 25, 2012, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi gave Alois and another Coconut Creek detective an award for aiding an elderly crime victim.

No city action was indicated in the internal police reports until Tropepe contacted then-Deputy Chief Robert Biondolillo in early May 2012. Biondolillo discussed what happened with a Broward prosecutor on Jan. 24, 2014, in response to a subpoena.

“The records supervisor indicated that there were somewhere between 80 and 100, I don’t remember exactly, cases that there were no investigative supplements, [or] police reports by Detective Alois, and some of the cases had been closed, actually closed without any report written by the detective,” Biondolillo told a Broward prosecutor in a Jan. 24 sworn statement.

Biondolillo, who the city clerk’s office says retired in December 2012, testified he immediately ordered internal affairs to do a preliminary review that confirmed there was a serious problem.

“Some of the cases had evidence that wasn’t sent to the lab, some of the cases had CDs, DVDs, I think, as well that weren’t put into evidence, some of the cases had statements that weren’t into evidence,” said Biondolillo. “It was bad.”

Biondolillo testified that he ordered a full internal affairs investigation, but said it was “countermanded” by Chief Mann. Instead, Mann asked the city’s Human Resources department to handle it administratively, he said.

Biondolillo testified that wasn’t the first time Mann had countermanded him regarding the need to investigate Alois. He said that on two previous occasions, Drug Enforcement Administration agents had visited him and Mann to inform them of evidence they’d found that Alois was a patient at pain clinics under surveillance as suspected pill mills.

Both times, Mann countermanded his orders that Internal Affairs investigate Alois. Instead, Mann gave the matter to Human Resources, Biondolillo said.

Cases kicked back

Human Resources, however, didn’t agree with the chief’s plan for review when it came to handling the 82 botched cases.

“Approximately two months later, the HR director said, ‘No, there needs to be an Internal Affairs investigation on this, this has to be investigated,” Biondolillo said under oath. He added that he quit the department not long after that “because of the fact that Mike Mann and I were 180 degrees … different on these administrative decisions.”

On Monday, Mann denied countermanding Biondolillo’s orders. “That’s absolutely incorrect,” he said.

Still, police records about Alois’ mishandling of cases show Internal Affairs did not begin investigating until July 2012, two months after Biondolillo says Mann countermanded him and sent the matter to the city’s personnel department.

Chief Mann said Monday that all the 82 cases were “reinvestigated” by other detectives and presented to prosecutors. “They accepted some that hadn’t been brought to their attention and others they declined prosecution,” he said. No tally about the outcome of cases was available.

Broward prosecutors looked at Alois’ mishandling of cases as part of its review of a dozen allegations against Chief Mann that were contained in anonymous letters sent to several agencies, including the attorney general and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, where Mann served as chief of investigations in Miami before becoming the chief of police in Coconut Creek in 2009.

The allegations ranged from Mann’s handling of an incident in which Coconut Creek Sgt. Robert Markland purchased a Glock handgun for $1 from an 85-year-old suspect at a crime scene, to complaints that Mann had improperly used city police officers to perform work at his home and at a family event.

Mann gave no statement under oath, but in a 16-page close-out memo in October, Broward’s chief public corruption prosecutor, Timothy Donnelly, cleared Mann of any wrongdoing.

The close-out memo devotes just three paragraphs to the Alois matter.

Florida Bulldog is a not-for-profit news organization created to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. Contributions are tax-deductible. www.floridabulldog.org

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