Aug 282015
 

Issue-58-Mr-and-Mrs-Smith-for-web-800x586

by Naja and Arnaud Girard.......

FDLE reprimanded Special Agent Kathy Smith with a 5-day suspension. Agent Smith was accused of having intentionally signed a false affidavit in order to secure a $461,000 bank loan.

Agent Smith became engulfed in controversy in 2014 while leading the investigation of the in-custody-death of 61-year old tourist, Charles Eimers. According to her critics, a serious conflict of interest had caused her to participate in a KWPD cover-up of Eimers’ death: Special Agent Kathy Smith was investigating officers who, on that fateful day, were under the direct supervision of KWPD Captain Scott Smith, her ex-husband and father of her child.

In spite of public indignation, FDLE steadfastly ignored the conflict of interest, even under direct questioning by CBS News investigators. When FDLE forwarded its conflict of interest policies to the media, it conveniently left out the one which speaks directly to the issue: Rule 7.1 of FDLE’s “Ethical Standards of Conduct,” reviewable on their website. It reads:

“Police officers shall, unless required by law or policy, refrain from becoming involved in official matters, or influencing actions of other police officers in official matters, impacting the officer’s immediate family, relatives, or persons with whom the officer has or has had a significant personal relationship.”

Finally, in November 2014, it was reported in The Blue Paper that Smith and her ex-husband Scott Smith were cozy enough to swear, under oath, that they were still married some four months after their divorce had become final. Special Agent Kathy Smith was escorted out of her FDLE office in disgrace and placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into perjury and mortgage fraud.

Even though the Smiths both refused to cooperate with the investigation, for Assistant State Attorney Mark Wilson, the case was pretty cut and dry. “Divorce is typically distressing, unpleasant, and expensive, and not something a person is likely to be confused about,” wrote Wilson in his report on the alleged perjury. He concluded that although it appeared there was probable cause to prosecute the Smiths, the statute of limitations [2 years] had run out.

The mortgage application had allowed the Smiths to borrow $461,000 on a house they claimed to have purchased for $132,500. They were now threatened with foreclosure. However, the alleged perjury could no longer have any criminal repercussions. Many expected that FDLE’s internal affairs investigation would lead to serious sanctions against Kathy Smith. She received a 5-day suspension.

“That’s it!?” asked Citizen Review Board member Tom Milone, “She signs a false affidavit under oath, and she gets no more than a five day suspension?”

“She got off on a technicality,” says Darren Horan, who represented the Eimers family and discovered the records showing a conflict between divorce papers and the mortgage affidavit.

So, can she still testify in court? Will jurors listen to her and be expected to believe what she says or is the perjury issue always going to discredit her story?

Before we get into all that, let’s recall briefly how Special Agent Kathy Smith’s credibility was first brought into question:

It was 8:30 am on Thanksgiving morning, 2013. On South Beach, at the end of Duval Street, police officers were struggling to hand-cuff a man when they suddenly realized he had stopped breathing. He was hauled away in an ambulance. By 9:00 am, it was clear that the man, Charles Eimers, would never leave the hospital alive. KWPD switched to damage control.

One of the men of the hour was Sergeant Pablo Rodriguez. At the time, lawyers were defending Rodriguez in a lawsuit that would eventually cost the City nearly $300,000 to settle. He’d been accused by a fellow officer of having ordered the destruction of a dashcam recording showing use of excessive force.

Rodriguez was immediately put in charge of collecting evidence.

Someone had to call FDLE. (FDLE is the agency in charge of investigating all KWPD serious injury or death-in-custody cases.) KWPD Captain Scott Smith made the call and he called none other than FDLE Special Agent Kathy Smith, his ex-wife and mother of his child.

Kathy would take the lead in the investigation, applying FDLE’s ‘outstanding investigative techniques.’

This is how FDLE describes its mission to the public:

“To provide crime scene processing by recording, collecting, and preserving physical evidence (…) using state of the art equipment and scientific techniques.”

In fact, Kathy Smith would conveniently fail to take control of the evidence and in short order video and audio recordings were erased or butchered and witnesses were lost.

The investigation was far from “state of the art.”

It took months for Eimers’ family’s attorneys to find independent cell phone video, but when it became public, it showed KWPD Officer Henry Delvalle chasing witnesses away. Officer Kathyann Wanciak, an eyewitness said, had threatened to arrest another group of witnesses.

Police dispatch [CAD] audio files were cut to remove the part about the use of a Taser, which the Department claims was never fired, but somehow the note regarding Taser use was left in the written CAD report. The Taser video was incomplete, apparently erased, but not far enough to take away comments made later by officer Gary Lee Lovette who said things like, “We might as well just bury him,” “We just killed someone,” and “I dropped like a fucking bomb on his head.”

Kathy Smith was in charge of this whole circus; the crime scene belonged to FDLE. South Beach restaurant employees and other witnesses claimed FDLE failed to return their repeated phone calls. Credit card slips were never examined to find those lost witnesses. Under Smith’s supervision Eimers’ body was nearly cremated before autopsy.

Special Agent Kathy Smith had the phone number of a Columbian tourist who had taken video of the incident, but she never contacted her. When the video finally surfaced several months later thanks to Eimers’ family's attorneys, many of the officers found themselves caught in a lie.

Officer Randal Hartel, who claimed he was somewhere else at the time Eimers lost consciousness, was clearly identified on scene in the video. Worse, there was Eimers with his face covered in sand and bleeding from the ear. Officer Nicholas Galbo and others had sworn Eimers had never had any sand on his face.

Smith, who according to the medical examiner (ME), was his only source of information, informed the ME that Eimers had not been facedown in the sand and that he had been able to speak during the entire incident. Relying on what clearly appeared later to be false information, the ME concluded that Eimers could not have been smothered in the sand on South Beach and that he must have died of sudden cardiac arrest.

FDLE’s incomplete investigation was used to neutralize the grand jury that gathered to look into Eimers’ death.

The US Justice Department is currently conducting their own investigation into Eimers’ death and the FDLE "investigation" that followed.

“Police officers should not lie,” said Milone, outraged at the 5-day suspension. “If they lie they should be dismissed or asked to resign.”

So, can Special Agent Kathy Smith still do her job? Can she testify in court? “Technically yes,” says Horan, “She has not been convicted of perjury so there is no direct impeachment. But prosecutors are going to have to be very careful never to bring up her character as an element of credibility. If they open that door, then the whole perjury issue can come in.”

“I don’t’ think this minimal sanction does anything to appease the public’s doubts about police accountability in our community,” says Milone.

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Arnaud and Naja Girard
Arnaud and Naja Girard, publishers and editors of the new, digital, Key West the Newspaper (The Blue Paper) previously reported for the former Key West The Newspaper, Key West’s longest running independent weekly, published by Dennis Reeves Cooper, Ph.D., from January 1994 until November 2012. The Girards are perhaps best known for their discovery of and extensive research surrounding the US Navy’s 1951 claim of ownership of Wisteria Island but are also responsible for top investigative stories including breaking news coverage of the highly controversial in-custody-death of Charles Eimers on Thanksgiving Day 2013, the catastrophic police tasing of Matthew Shawn Murphy, and the property tax scandal involving Balfour Beatty to name a few. Additionally the Girards have become well known for their in-depth investigations into local governments' sometimes questionable dealings with high dollar developers. Arnaud and Naja have lived in Key West since 1986.

  11 Responses to “FDLE AGENT KATHY SMITH GETS AWAY WITH IT!”

  1. “I don’t’ think this minimal sanction does anything to appease the public’s doubts about police accountability in our community,” says Milone.
    ****************
    hell tom…maybe we need the oathkeepers to come to town and protect us from the oathbreakers now. this whole fiasco and emier’s killing was avoidable by proper police training which apparently lee hasn’t a clue about and proper officer choices to fill the ranks of the kwpd. what we have is a kwtd [thug dept]. for god’s sake look at the gravity of the massive perjury and the mental sets at play like the thug lovette…f-bomb man. these sob’s knew damn well they killed eimers that day he was rolled over on the sand and the cop shop realized they had just asphyxiated the poor man. oops now lets cover it up was the going game.
    each and every player did his and her part for the common goal of manipulating CYA!
    ongoing disgusting and pathetic lies and deception and the shame of it all is the settlement itself whereas discovery never had a chance to get off the ground so the real truth could be realized far more then the sham game.
    you ask if this will ‘appease’ wrong choice of words….only justice need prevail to appease and there was not one shred of justice or truth coming from the city of key west pd in this entire matter. in 37 years of residency here in key west which I love dearly and in my 70 years on earth I have never felt so deeply sad over any matter and now take a jaundice eye when viewing the thugs in blue in key west only. this surely does not reflect my feeling of the county sheriff dept which imho are well trained and proper officer disciplined gentleman and women.
    kwpd leaves much to be desired and is very far from a pro-cop-shop.
    the CRB should also be way more harsh especially in this instance on the eimers case. yes we all await the feds ‘investigation’ but I sure don’t hold my breath. i’ll anticipate more of the same and would be quite surprised at a violation of civil rights conclusion.
    in closing thank you for what you do on the board and if I’ve been a bit strident forgive me since I know what asphyxiation feels like since i’ve been there many times with stage 4 copd and its a horror of a way to finally go out! especially with a pack of idiot tv swat playing gung ho untrained morons piling on to a totally passive person on his knees and then his stomach on a sandy beach.

  2. Naja & Arnaud,

    Brilliantly put together. I’m inflamed by the degree of deception and malfeasance characterizing the conduct of those engaged in this alleged criminal conspiracy.

    The multifaceted layers of fraud and duplicity in this matter appear to run long and deep. In this most recent examination of facts, along with your prior detailed investigations, it seems to me that there was a concerted and expansive attempt by some to conceal, distort, destroy and create evidence related to the in-custody death of Mr. Eimers. For many citizens this ‘composite of corruption’ appears to be clearly illustrated.

    This expansive and far reaching cover-up, as it is alleged, appears to comprise an assembly of government employees and public officials.

    The extraordinary research that you’ve done on the ‘Eimers’ Killing’, convincingly laying out specific, relevant and precise evidence; will provide the Justice Department with a plethora of credible information, which can be formulated into a series of successful prosecutions and convictions.

    Serious crimes committed by public officials undermine the stability and viability of our government. Our communities become destabilized and unsafe, while our children and families are robbed of their peace of mind and trust in the Homeland.

    It’s my sincerest hope that Naja and Arnaud will consider contacting and speaking with the Justice Department, providing them with the remarkable work that they’ve done on the matter under their consideration.

    The integrity and diligence that has gone into their investigative reports on Charles Eimers, will shed light on a troubling and disturbing concern that has lingered on far too long.

    Via some colleagues remaining in government, I will look to get this information into the hands of President Obama and Attorney General Lynch.

    With Love, Blessings & Respect…

  3. Key West has to be the most corrupt city in America. Are there any agencies down there with integrity? I often wonder about the safety of those of you complaining but am glad you have the guts and the voice to uncover such criminal activities by those who are suppose to represent the law. The Federal government must get involved in the Charles Elmer and Shawn Murphy cases. Key West is becoming a cesspool both literally and figuratively.

  4. THE feds should be looking at using the RICO act for prosecuting the Florida officials involved in the ongoing cover ups in Key West, Fl.
    So repetitive, so flagrant. Just what RICO applies to.

  5. you mean the “feds” like the FBI who make up their own terrorists plots? or the “feds” like the DOJ that never saw a banking crime worth prosecuting, while its former leader Holder returns to his multi-million dollar a year job at a law firm that never met a wall street banker it wouldn’t defend?

    THOSE “feds”????

  6. Whoever said that crime does not pay?!! Seven months off with pay followed by five days off without pay is a veritable reward for malfeasance at best!! It will be interesting to see her future assignments and if FDLE continues to use her as an investigator.

  7. I’d like to know what purpose FDLE serves other than covering the asses of law enforcement here in Florida it’s obvious it’s a worthless organization. FDLE completely disregarded their own rules in allowing Kathy Smith to lead the investigation into the Eimers murder. Her investigation was criminal in itself and she deserved to lose her job because of it. The results of her investigation were however exactly what FDLE expected of her so to them it was a job well done. Did we really expect the investigation into her mortgage fraud to be any different? She has been on a 9 1/2 month paid vacation at taxpayer expense which works out to be about $72,000 based on her $93,000 yearly salary. I’m certainly not holding my breath waiting for the DOJ investigation. Law enforcement here in Key West and the entire state gets a free pass to do whatever they want and the public has no power to change anything. Hell, our Mayor and Commissioners think KWPD walks on water and can do no wrong.

    • Desertcogo, in a nutshell, you summed up the meat of this bad coconut:

      “Hell, our Mayor and Commissioners think KWPD walks on water and can do no wrong.”

      The mayor and city commissioners are where this buck stops. Kathy Smith and FDLE indeed are corrupt, but they did not do this awful thing on South Beach. KWPD officers did it, and then they intimidated witnesses, tampered evidence and covered it up, and their police chief backed them all the way, and the city manager, to whom the police chief answers, backed the cops all the way, and the mayor and city commissioners, to whom the city manager answers, backed the cops all the way.

      I myself was there when it happened at a city commission meeting, which tempest was reported the in the next blue paper issue. I called the mayor and commissioners out. I told them their cops had killed Charles Eimers, because they thought he was homeless. I said they had murdered him. City Commissioner Mark Rossi then went ballistic at me. I thought maybe he might have a stroke or a heart attack. I also thought he was protesting way too much. Then, City Commissioner Tony Yaniz had at me. Their police were great cops.

      I asked Rossi and Yaniz them if they had even seen the Colombian’s video of what went down on South Beach? No answer.

      All the while I was being hammered by those two commissioners, the mayor and the other 4 commissioners said nothing.

      None of the seven ever apologized to the Eimers family. They never showed public remorse for what their cops did to Charles Eimers. For that reason, I said at another city commission meeting, I told them they should resign, all seven of them.

      I challenged the blue paper readers to go to city commission meetings and tell the mayor and commissioners they should resign. Nobody went and told them that. I told the blue paper to call for the mayor and city commissioners’ resignation. The blue paper did not call for their resignations.

      What we ended up with was Gary Lee Lovette, thanks to the mayor and city commissioners, and the city manager, and the chief of police, was elevated to be the Key West poster cop, the ideal to which all Key West cops strive to be. That is the message being sent out by the mayor, the city commissioners, the city manager and the chief of police. And, alas by the people of Key West, who did not call for their mayor and the city commissioners to resign.

      Yes, State Attorney Catherine Vogel and her hired guns salted the grand jury in favor of letting the cops skate. But and like FDLE, Vogel and her hired guns did not do this awful thing. They only helped cover it up. Like FDLE helped cover it up. Like, perhaps, but I hope not, the FBI will help cover it up.

      Meanwhile, the people running this city, the mayor and the six city commissioners, are not been called out, they are not being told they should resign. What’s wrong with that picture? Everything is wrong with it.

  8. God speed a Serpico within FDLE and the KWPD.

  9. It is long past the time to re visit Nuhremberg. The thin blue line is nothing more than a twenty first century swastika!

  10. The bank should have caught this in the foreclosure and had them both behind bars. Not hard to figure out why they took out a loan they never intended to pay back. In a divorce typically the house would be sold and any profit split. What they did was sell the house to the bank for a profit of over 300 k. Not a bad move and they did exactly what many others did. While it is too late to go after perjury charges it is not too late for the bank to go after them for the loss unless they filed bankruptcy too.

    One issue still remains in that this clearly shows the lack of code of ethics and she illegally handled the case. She still could and should be fired and put behind bars.

    We can only hope in the end that the feds take action. The very fact that it is taking so long makes me believe they found plenty of issues and will be taking action. One hell of a mess with over a dozen people that need fired and charged criminally. As with any type of crime sooner or later they get caught for stupidity. How can they view such video and audio and not see it as murder ? Eimers clearly did not try to resist. He slowly got out of his PT and walked about 15 feet and laid face down waiting to be handcuffed. The thugs did not want a simple arrest.

    I am disgusted with what KW has turned into. Love the town but might start looking for a safer place to visit. Been going to KW often for over 40 years. Not sure if anyone could save this town.

    Yes Key West is very corrupt and as tourists get word of it they will find safer better places for vacation. Say goodbye to the money. We have a friend that lives in KW that told us it was corrupt years ago but we never got into the details because at the time we figured it could not be that major. All towns have corruption but not like KW. Why the voters have not cleaned up this town is something I do not understand or perhaps the election is corrupt too.

    Would be nice to know how soon the feds will finish up but am sure they will not tell anyone till it is over.

    The residents and tourist are in serious danger to be in KW with such a corrupt police department. Just a matter of time till they kill again.

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