Fla. LEO faces 'rare' felony criminal investigation for leak

Sgt. Roger Krege was accused of providing a news outlet with a list of confidential informants

Rafael Olmeda
South Florida Sun Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — It’s a rare step for police to take — pursuing a criminal case against one of their own for leaking sensitive information to the press.

Police in Sunrise are weighing whether to charge a sergeant with a felony, not for excessive force or off-the-job misconduct, but for spilling confidential information to the news media.

Police are weighing whether to charge a Sunrise, Fla. sergeant with a felony for spilling confidential information to the news media.
Police are weighing whether to charge a Sunrise, Fla. sergeant with a felony for spilling confidential information to the news media. (Megan OOtildeMatz/Sun Sentinel/TNS)

“That is not something you see often,” said Jim Mulvaney, an adjunct professor in the law and police science department at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, specializing in law and police science. “Internal affairs investigations are fairly common, but leaks don’t usually trigger criminal investigations.”

The investigation came to light in September, when police executed search warrants suspecting Sgt. Roger Krege of providing the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 2014 with, among other things, a list of confidential informants used in dozens of drug cases.

The timing coincides with a Sun Sentinel investigation called “Cops, Cash and Cocaine,” which outlined how the police department used confidential informants to lure drug buyers into the city. Once the arrests were made, police were able to seize the buyers’ money and often their vehicles, resulting in huge paydays for the officers working overtime and for the informants.

The article showed the newspaper knew the location of the department’s “Vice, Intelligence and Narcotics” unit, which forced Sunrise to move the office. The article did not disclose the name of any confidential informant.

Police leaks to the media are not unusual, but in this case, the department is taking it very seriously. Because it’s an ongoing investigation, the Sunrise Police Department declined to comment. But Lt. Brian Katz laid out why this was no ordinary leak.

“The exposure and illegal copying of the (list) put every confidential informant in grave danger and threatened the personal safety of every detective working in the Vice, Intelligence and Narcotics unit and working with the confidential informants,” Katz wrote.

That, Mulvaney said, is the kind of leak most likely to lead to a criminal investigation. Police tend to treat media leaks as breaches of trust on the job, at worst, he said. Criminal charges are another story.

In Florida, the charge of “disclosure or use of confidential criminal justice information” is a third-degree felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. The law was passed in 2003. A search of criminal cases failed to turn up a single prosecution under that law in Broward.

There have been a handful of cases statewide.

Last year in Volusia, a clerk was charged with sending her son documents showing he was the suspect in a gun theft investigation. There was a similar case in Polk County in 2011, this time involving a Florida Fish and Wildlife officer allegedly telling a martial arts classmate he was the subject of a criminal probe. Both cases were ultimately dropped, according to state records.

In Broward, no one has been prosecuted under the “disclosure or use of confidential criminal justice information” law.

Suspended Broward Deputy Michael Dingman was accused of secretly recording surveillance footage of the January 2017 mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport that left five people dead. The footage later appeared on the gossip website TMZ. But he was charged with a related misdemeanor — violating the state’s public records law by releasing information that should have been exempt from disclosure.

There was no indication that Dingman was paid for the information, and he apparently got rid of the phone he used to record the video, according to investigators. In addition to the misdemeanor, Dingman is accused of tampering with evidence, a felony punishable by up to five years.

In the Sunrise case, Krege’s lawyers have not commented on the warrants.

Though the search warrants are a public record and he has been placed on administrative leave, police have not verified that he was the source of the leak and Krege has not been charged with any crime.

The investigation into Krege started last year when his ex-wife, Elizabeth, provided police with the list of informants she said she found in a safe belonging to the couple. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.

While investigating the leak allegations, police said they found further indications that Krege, an 18-year veteran with the department, improperly used his access to private information.

Earlier this year, a separate internal affairs investigation looked into whether Krege abused his access to police data systems to search for information on his ex, her son and colleagues in the department.

Krege told investigators he researched the information for training purposes to show other officers how the system worked. He acknowledged he should have known that such searches were considered a misuse of the resource, and he accepted a 40-hour suspension earlier this year.

No criminal conduct was alleged.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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