Sunday, July 22, 2007

"The actions in this case frankly are disgusting and despicable. It almost defies belief."

That was Judge Graham as he sentenced Detective Thomas Simcox, 50, to just over 11 years (which was more than prosecutors has asked for) and a $100,000 fine. He continued: "On the scale of criminal conduct, this case ranks near the top."

Two other officers fared no better in front of Judge Cohn: Hollywood Police Sgt. Kevin Companion was sentenced to 14 years in prison and Officer Stephen Harrison received a nine-year term.

The case as described by the Sun-Sentinel: "The four officers were arrested in February after an FBI sting caught them — on videotape — dealing in stolen diamonds in Atlantic City; transporting stolen art while using police evidence room receipts as cover; protecting crooked card games; and finally, late last year, running protection for what they thought was a shipment of heroin."

Public corruption cases are always tough on the sentencing judge and the cases always raise a host of issues. Should the sentence be higher for a public official (in this case a police officer) than for someone else who does the same act because the official violates public trust? Or should the sentence be lower if the official has done lots of good for society? Or should these two factors be a wash?

More from the article:

Friday morning's sentencing of Companion, 41, and Harrison, 47, included hours of emotional pleadings, while raising the question of how men who all agreed were caring, compassionate family men and good police officers could turn criminal.The amount of money they received — from $12,000 for Harrison up to $42,000 for Companion — was less than they could have made working overtime and extra details, Hollywood police officials have said."Any sentence would serve not only as punishment of Kevin, but of his family and his kids," a tearful Emily Companion, Sgt. Companion's wife, told U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn as she clutched photos of the couple's two children, her husband crying just a few feet away. "We are suffering every minute of every day."Cohn responded sympathetically: "Ma'am, you know it is always the family who suffers the most. Always." Looking at the pictures, he smiled and said, "your children are beautiful."

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