Nov 1, 2002
says his career was ruined because he refused to back
Until now, he's never told his story. But he's not keeping quiet anymore.
It's the seedy side of Tampa. The underground sex industry. Where lingerie shops offer services like body massages. Tampa police detective Dale "Chip" DeBlock infiltrated shops that sold sex. He went in undercover, capturing the evidence on videotape. His investigations revealed many of them were nothing more than fronts for prostitution.
started off with 79 shops in the City of Tampa," DeBlock says in an
EXCLUSIVE interview with FOX13 Investigates' Glenn Selig. "We had it down
to 19 shops."
Detective DeBlock made headlines. He received glowing job
evaluations. And he was named Officer of the Month. "I was looking at a
pretty good career at one point."
course of his career changed three years ago after he began to investigate
claims from a woman we'll call "Samantha." She told him a prosecutor at
the Hillsborough State Attorney's office was working against him by
tipping off the clubs.
my surprise the information I was given just started checking out,"
checked out, she told him more; that politicians and prosecutors in Tampa
were clients of the clubs. He's talking publically for the very first
time. "I just think that people should be aware of what's going
exactly is going on? DeBlock says he was just trying to find out if
someone was compromising his investigations. But in pursuing that, he says
he uncovered evidence of blackmail and corruption.
"Samantha" identified that man as Harry Lee Coe, III. At the time,
Harry Lee Coe was the State Attorney--Hillsborough County's most powerful
law enforcement officer.
as part of her job, she once secretly recorded video of Coe having sex
with a prostitute.
shows him going to get into the hot tub and sitting down," she says, "then
it shows her taking her bathing suit off."
the tape was made for blackmail in case Body Works had trouble with the
law. "Just the general threat of it would have been enough to put the
a few police officers. There were lawyers, doctors and (Hillsborough
County) judges," Stromberger says.
he never worried about a police raid because Body Works had those powerful
clients. "I always figured that nobody would touch Body
informant gave DeBlock "...detailed information..." about "...attempts to
corrupt public officials"
allegation includes a "$65,000 payment made... to... Harry Lee Coe..." Coe
was a judge at the time. And the same source told DeBlock about bribes
paid to a current Hillsborough County judge.
happened next nearly destroyed DeBlock's career. "After that point in time
things just started to deteriorate."
says State Attorney Harry Lee Coe's office took aim at him. "The
Hillsborough County State Attorney's office filed multiple Internal
Affairs complaints against me, I believe there were 21 allegations
allegations included fondling a female suspect and withholding evidence.
He was eventually cleared of all wrongdoing.
during the months Internal Affairs investigated DeBlock some big news
broke. Hillsborough County State Attorney Harry Lee Coe committed
spoke briefly months ago with FDLE Supervisor Charles Guthrie. He asked
Guthrie if DeBlock gave him information. Guthrie told him, "I'm not saying
it didn't happen. It doesn't sound familiar." When Glenn followed up to
arrange an interview, FDLE's public information officer Rick Morera told
Glenn, "No one is willing to speak.. about Harry Lee Coe" and FDLE is
"unwilling to provide any information at this time."
final report for the Coe death investigation, FDLE concluded Coe's suicide
was the result of mounting gambling debts.
conclusions were based on what my office did, what FDLE did, and what I
was aware of at the time," says Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie
McCabe, who was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to investigate Coe's death. He
says FDLE never mentioned Det. DeBlock or his
Bernie McCabe, Special Prosecutor: I don't know anything about it.
Glenn Selig, FOX13: Shouldn't you?
Bernie McCabe, Special Prosecutor: I don't know.
letter to Governor Bush, dated November of 2000, McCabe says, "There was
no evidence found of any corrupt or external influences that could be a
factor in Coe's death." The letter even says that "allegations (of
corruption) were investigated and found to be
Glenn Selig, FOX13: Had they investigated this as part of
the death investigation you would've heard about it?
contacted FDLE to find out what became of DeBlock's leads, they sent us
letters saying the FDLE "...does not possess any such written statements
we asked for information alleging a connection between organized crime and
Coe, FDLE said they had two pieces of information. They said they couldn't
release them because one came from a "federal criminal justice agency" and
the other was part of "active criminal intelligence information." But they
acknowledged the information was not considered in the death
Investigates wanted to ask why not? But FDLE refused to do an
Glenn Selig, FOX13: Do you think that a sex tape,
involvement with prostitutes or links to corruption, could possibly be a
motive to contribute to a suicide?
DeBlock insists he gave credible information to FDLE. He's baffled as to
why FDLE would say it has nothing from him. And "Samantha" who claims to
have recorded the sex tape says she told her story to FDLE. But FDLE told
us it has no record of her statement. "I'll never report anything else.
Never. Ever. Report anything else. This is why people don't report
anything. What good did it do?"
Stromberger, another Body Works employee, was mentioned in the Detective's
reports. He says no one from FDLE ever questioned him.
Glenn Selig, FOX13: Did anyone ever ask you any questions
about the videotapes?
DeBlock believes the information he says he gave to FDLE could've put some
powerful people behind bars. But he says when he tried to blow the whistle
he paid the price. He was reassigned. Now instead of investigating Tampa's
underground sex industry, he tracks down stolen cars.
Detective DeBlock has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the
police department. Because there's a lawsuit pending, Tampa Police
Dept. told us it has no comment.
Hillsborough County Commissioners
Gov. Jeb Bush