A Broward Sheriff's Office detective was arrested Wednesday on felony tampering charges for interfering with an ongoing extortion and racketeering case involving two Fort Lauderdale cops, authorities said.
Anthony Costanzo turned himself in to the Broward County Jail to face charges of tampering with a witness, tampering with evidence, disclosure of confidential information and felony use of a two-way communication device charges, the Broward State Attorney's Office said.
Costanzo was released Wednesday evening after posting $5,000 bond. Costanzo's attorney, Al Milian, didn't immediately return calls for comment Thursday.
According to the State Attorney's Office, Costanzo is accused of interfering with the cases against Fort Lauderdale detectives Billy Koepke and Brian Dodge, who are facing a host of charges including official misconduct, kidnapping and false imprisonment.
Koepke and Dodge, members of the Street Crimes Unit, were arrested last November following an investigation by state prosecutors, the FBI and Fort Lauderdale Police.
According to State Attorney Michael J. Satz, Koepke and Dodge conducted traffic stops with or without probable cause and often out of their jurisdiction to search occupants for money and/or pills. If the occupants possessed a large amount of cash, Dodge and Koepke would fabricate criminal charges to steal a portion of the money and pills, Satz said.
State Attorney's Office investigators say Costanzo was trying to help his "buddy," Koepke following a January 20 traffic stop of a man and woman in Oakland Park.
According to an arrest affidavit, the man and woman, who had been pulled over for a left-turn violation, had accused Koepke of false imprisonment in the earlier case.
When the woman's purse was searched, deputies found pills and she was arrested for possession of a controlled substance.
The State Attorney's Office said BSO'snzo followed the woman back to the BSo's District 12 Substation, where she advised that she was a victim in the criminal case against Koepke and Dodge.
Costanzo began a discussion with the woman about the criminal case involving Koepke and Dodge, videotaping it with his personal cellphone, the State Attorney's Office said.
According to the State Attorney's Office, Costanzo then sent the video to Koepke's cellphone.
Later that day, Costanzo told his supervisor that Koepke was a "buddy" of his, reminded him of the criminal case against Koepke and Dodge, and showed him a portion of the video, the affidavit said.
Costanzo told the supervisor that the woman told him "information that is going to help his friend Billy," and that the video was going to help Koepke in his criminal case, the affidavit said.
The supervisor contacted his chief and the Internal Affairs Division, and Costanzo was suspended from duty with pay that day, the affidavit said. He was suspended without pay when the charges were filed Wednesday, the BSO said.
According to the affidavit, surveillance video captured Costanzo in a booking area with the woman and using his cellphone.
When a search warrant was executed on Costanzo's cellphone, the video was removed, the affidavit said. But a search of Koepke's cell phone turned up the video, the affidavit said.
Phone records also corroborated calls between Costanzo and Koepke, as well as the sending of the video, the affidavit said.
The woman who was arrested during the traffic stop was later found to have valid prescriptions for her medications, and the charges against her were dropped.
Tampering with a witness is a first-degree felony which carries a maximum punishment of life in prison. Costanzo faces up to five years in prison on each of the other charges.