How did a single Florida detective manage to botch 82 child rape and senior abuse cases?
A shocking 82 “high liability” criminal cases — mostly involving sexual assaults on children and abuse of seniors — were botched by a single Florida detective, a report revealed this week.
According to the Florida Bulldog investigative blog, the cases were reviewed as part of a larger investigation of Coconut Creek Police Chief Michael Mann, which the Broward State Attorney’s Office quietly ended in October.
Each of the 82 cases had been assigned to then-Detective Tammy Kilgore Alois, who was accused mishandling evidence, failing to interview victims and witnesses, and failing to present cases for prosecution.
Documents obtained by Florida Bulldog indicated that no one in the Coconut Creek Police Department had been held criminally responsible for the miscarriage of justice.
“The cases that Detective Alois was primarily assigned to were high liability cases that typically involved juvenile victims,” one internal report noted. “Failure to follow up or complete these types of cases in a timely manner can greatly affect the level of solvability, successful prosecution and, most importantly, put other members of the community at risk.”
In a 2012 case, the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was allegedly sexually battered by a 39-year-old man eventually dropped the case after Alois mishandled evidence and failed to complete a report on the victim’s statement. The mother said that Alois had told her that there was no point in sending her daughter to a Sexual Assault Treatment Center (SATC).
Alois was assigned to the case of 4-year-old boy who had been sexually assaulted and shown pornographic movies in 2010. During the 554 days that she had the case, she never interviewed the victim. Alois eventually reported that the child was “no longer talking about it” so the family decided not to pursue the case.
But the detective was never fired for bungling those 82 cases. Instead, the city entered into a “Last Chance Agreement” with Alois. She was suspended to four weeks without pay, and transferred to road patrol.
Five months later, she violated that agreement, and was fired in 2013 for failing to write a burglary report.
Police Chief Michael Mann told the Florida Bulldog that he had not initially recommended firing Alois because the then-City Manager David Rivera had already made up his mind about her punishment.
“The city manager had the ultimate decision. When he tells you he is not going to terminate, it makes no difference what my recommendation was,” Mann pointed out. “He didn’t say why.”
However, police records indicated that then-Deputy Chief Robert Biondolillo had recommended a full Internal Affairs investigation in December 2012 after noticing that reports were missing in about 25 of Alois’ cases. But Biondolillo said that Mann had personally “countermanded” his order.
And that wasn’t the first time that Mann had shut down an IA investigation of Alois, according to Biondolillo. After the Drug Enforcement Agency informed the department on two occasions that Alois was abusing prescription medications, Mann insisted that human resources handle the matter instead of IA.
“It just didn’t make any, any sense to me,” Biondolillo told prosecutors. “I mean there was never any long, drawn-out conversations, screaming matches; that didn’t happen. It was ‘You’re the boss, that’s what you want to do, okay.’”
Human Resources eventually turned the cases back over to Internal Affairs, which was forced to launch three separate investigations of Alois because of the number of incidents, police reports indicated.
For his part, Mann said that Biondolillo’s claim that he blocked IA investigations was “absolutely incorrect.”
Mann also argued that Alois could not have been charged for bungling the 82 cases, saying, “I don’t know what the charge would have been.”
Broward County chief public corruption prosecutor Timothy Donnelly closed out the investigation in October by noting that “[d]etective Alois suffered from a substance-abuse problem and neglected her cases to an extremely troubling degree…these failures had a negative impact on Detective Alois’ investigations and subsequent prosecutions.”
The investigation also cleared Mann of any wrongdoing for not acting to discipline or investigate Alois sooner.