Hollywood Assistant Police Chief Ken Haberland and Major Norris Redding were relieved of duty with pay Tuesday, 14 days after the Broward State Attorney's Office told them they were under criminal investigation concerning allegations of official misconduct.
Both high-ranking officers were added to the list of officers and deputies under criminal investigation on Sept. 10, according to a letter sent to both men by Assistant State Attorney Timothy Donnelly, the prosecutor in charge of the state attorney's public corruption unit.
Sources with knowledge of the allegations say an internal audit raised questions about whether Haberland and Redding altered or destroyed Internal Affairs reports that involved them or their friends in the Police Department.
Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez told the Sun Sentinel an audit he requested of the entire department raised concerns about how Internal Affairs cases had been handled as far back as three years ago.
Fernandez decided to place Haberland, 47, and Redding, 52, on paid administrative leave Tuesday pending the outcome of the investigation, said city spokeswoman Raelin Storey. Haberland has been with the department 25 years and Redding 19 years.
The chief said he has ordered an internal investigation of Haberland and Redding. He did not discuss details due to the ongoing separate investigations by both his department and the State Attorney's Office.
Attorneys for both men said they were cooperating fully with the State Attorney's Office.
Michael Gottlieb, an attorney for Redding, said his client had done nothing wrong.
"He did not knowingly or willingly commit any crime," Gottlieb said. "I'm certain at the end of this investigation, he'll be vindicated."
Eric Schwartzreich, Haberland's attorney, defended both men.
"Our clients complied with the spirit and letter of the law and did not do anything criminal," he said. "There was nothing done that was secretive or clandestine. Departments have a right to purge certain IA files and what was done was allowed by state law. Our clients are open books in this matter. No one is hiding anything here."
An official with the State Attorney's Office said the office does not comment on open investigations.
Fernandez promoted Haberland from the position of lieutenant to assistant police chief in late August, just two weeks before Haberland was placed under criminal investigation.
After becoming chief on Aug. 20, Fernandez requested an audit of every division within the department to make sure rules and procedures were followed under the previous administration.
"I take responsibility," Fernandez said, "but I want to know what I'm taking over."
Mayor Peter Bober and Commissioner Peter Hernandez said this week that they'd heard about the investigation, but did not know which officers were involved.
"The State Attorneys Office, when they conduct a significant investigation, they tend to be discreet about it," Bober said. "I can't say they'd announce it to the entire world, including me."
News of the investigation shocked the remaining five commissioners, who all said on Friday they did not know two high-ranking officers were the target of a State Attorney's Office inquiry.
"This is the first I'm hearing of it," Hollywood Commissioner Patty Asseff said, echoing comments from Commissioners Kevin Biederman, Dick Blattner, Traci Callari and Linda Sherwood.
"This is shocking because they are such good people," Callari said. "They've been with the department for so long."
Staff writer Paula McMahon contributed to this report.
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