Bal Harbour Police Chief Suspended Pending Probe
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Bal Harbour’s police chief has been suspended with pay after the U.S. Justice Department released their report on alleged misconduct by the department.
The federal probe found that the department allegedly misspent millions of dollars seized in drug arrests and stings, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald. The report also cited police Chief Thomas Hunker for professional misconduct.
An outside law enforcement investigation has been launched into the allegations, the village’s human resource director Jay Smith told the paper who added that Hunker, 61, requested to be placed on leave to ensure its integrity.
Hunker has been police chief of the village since 2003. Captain Michael Daddario has been named acting chief.
According to the report, the police department’s vice squad didn’t play by the rules and used some of the seized drug money for first class plane tickets, luxury car rentals and to pay informants across the country.
Actions by the police department came under scrutiny last year after audit, and subsequent probe, turned up a host of problems include missing records, questionable expenses and hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to snitches, according to The Miami Herald.
The probe also questioned undercover detectives going across the country to make drug busts that had no connection to Bal Harbour which resulted in few arrests. The department also reportedly retained two police officers, who lived in Southern California and on the state’s west coast, to manage informants across the country. Over a four-year period, the department paid nearly $625,000 to these snitches who allegedly tipped cops off to lucrative busts from New York to California.
Former Miami-Dade assistant state attorney David Macey, who specialized in forfeitures, told the paper he’s never heard of an entire law enforcement agency being threatened with penalties and criminal sanctions.
CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed to this report.