FORT LAUDERDALE – Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein is calling for a special prosecutor to look into why an investigative report detailing Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies’ involvement in illegally obtained steroids was not turned over to his him and other defense attorneys.
A 1963 United States Supreme Court ruling known as the Brady Rule requires that prosecutors and law enforcement agencies disclose and turn over to defense attorneys any evidence favorable to the accused.
“This is outrageous and I am very upset,” Finkelstein said in an interview with South Florida Times. “They had this information and sat on it all these years. It’s dishonest, it’s corrupt, and it will not be tolerated.”
“We are gathering information to see how many cases we have involving these officers and I will certainly be asking the governor to appoint a special prosecutor. I had heard rumors, but your article brought out all the facts,” he said.
South Florida Times in its April 28 edition reported on details of a December 2008 investigative steroids report by BSO. The report concluded that more than a dozen deputies obtained steroids from the now defunct PowerMedica and other pharmaceutical firms with fraudulent prescriptions.
The investigation also concluded the deputies may have obtained the “controlled substances through fraudulent means” and may have committed numerous felonies. None of them have been disciplined or charged with any crime.
However, four private citizens have been sent to federal prison for their roles in the matter.
BSO did not respond to questions about Finkelstein’s comments and did not explain why the information was not forwarded to defense attorneys.
Finkelstein said BSO’s failure to comply with the Brady Rule is likely to affect hundreds of cases. He estimates his office is representing more than two dozen defendants in current cases involving the deputies.
“This is really serious. Because of this dishonesty, it will cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars to reopen these cases,” Finkelstein said. “We will be filing motions to have any cases these officers were involved in dismissed or re-opened.”