By ELGIN JONES
COOPER CITY — Former Wilton Manors Police Officer Marina Oliva Sweat, who resigned in 2011, is facing a criminal charge after displaying her old badge and police identification card while claiming she was still an officer.
But instead of being charged with impersonating a police officer, which is a felony, the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) cited her for improperly displaying a police badge, a misdemeanor.
According to police, Sweat was caught in a BSO sting operation following several
incidents and complaints made to Wilton Manors police and BSO alleging she was using her badge and claiming to be a police officer.
Sweat, whose case is pending before County Court Judge Eric M. Beller, did not return phone calls seeking comment. Her attorney, Alan Randall Haas, said in an email to the South Florida Times that it was a minor issue and questioned why anyone would be interested in the case.
According to the police reports, a team of four BSO detectives and Commander Ed Costello, second in command of the Wilton Manors police department, conducted surveillance on Sweat. One of the officers wore a recording device.
On April 20, Sweat was observed dropping her son off at a Cooper City school. As she drove away, she was not wearing a seat belt and rolled through a stop sign. BSO Sgt. Robert Beckmann, who was stationed a short distance away, was alerted and pulled her over.
As Beckmann approached her vehicle, Sweat flashed the badge and police identification card and told the sergeant she was a “canine officer.”
When told her identification card had expired, she said she had not been issued a new one.
Costello and other detectives arrived and confronted Sweat, who admitted she no longer worked for the department and said she was trying to “get out of a ticket.”
NOTICE TO APPEAR
Beckman gave Sweat a “Notice to Appear” for a single count of “Improper Display of a Police Badge,” a misdemeanor. Her expired Wilton Manors badge, police identification card, as well as a duplicate Florida driver’s license, were confiscated.
This was not the first time Sweat, 43, was accused of displaying the badge during a traffic stop after her departure from the department, according to police records.
Additionally, she was also accused of doing so to a school resource officer.
One other complaint came from Hollywood attorney Lisa Michelle Colombo, who, along with another woman, reported Sweat to BSO over an April rock throwing incident at the school their sons attend. Colombo accused Sweat of confronting her son, displaying a badge and stating she was a police officer. The heated exchange included profanity and Sweat filed a report with BSO.
That incident involved allegations of rock throwing by students during a youth baseball game at the school. Sweat’s son is on the team and was hit in the face by what he described as a “small rock possibly the size of a nickel” but he was not injured.
Colombo did not respond to emails and phone messages left at her office, but she presented case law to detectives, arguing that it was unlawful for Sweat to display a badge and take action as a police officer.
The rock throwing incident was investigated and the case was closed without the allegations against Sweat being pursued. But it did lead to the joint BSO-Wilton Manors police traffic sting.
BSO did not explain why she was not charged with a more serious offense of impersonating a police officer.
“As a result of their complaints, we investigated, initiated a traffic stop and caught her flashing her badge, which led to her being charged accordingly,” said BSO Media Relations Director Jim Leljedal.
According to Wilton Manors officials, Sweat was hired in August 2007 and left the job in May 2011, earning $51,938 annually.
**Pictured above is former Wilton Manors police officer Marina Sweat.