PLANT CITY - A federal prosecutor said Plant City's police
chief and mayor collaborated to hide criminal evidence against
police officers targeted in a federal corruption investigation.
Mayor Mike Sparkman paid the legal fees for accused officer
Armand Cotnoir to keep him from talking to the government about
crimes committed by Police Chief Bill McDaniel, said Assistant U.S.
Attorney Jeffrey Del Fuoco. In exchange, McDaniel agreed to hide
incriminating information about the mayor, Del Fuoco said.
Neither Sparkman nor McDaniel has been charged with a crime.
The accusations, revealed in court documents, are the latest in a
three-year investigation of police corruption allegations, including
stealing, lying or looking the other way.
Prosecutors said the officers stole property, conducted illegal
searches, falsified police reports and lied to judges. The
investigation has prompted the police chief, mayor and a city
commissioner to hire a criminal defense attorney.
Cotnoir, 27, was indicted in February on charges of conspiracy to
deprive citizens of their civil rights, deprivation of civil rights,
obstruction of justice and concealing knowledge of a felony.
Two former officers, Robert David Dixon and Shawn Corgan, pleaded
guilty in the investigation by the federal government and the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The activity occurred over a nearly four-year period, from 1997
Chief McDaniel's attorney, Ronald Cacciatore, said the claims
were "totally irresponsible."
The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.
The government filed a new motion asking U.S. Magistrate Thomas
McCoun III to revisit the issue, and McCoun issued an order Friday
giving the government 10 days to present evidence to support its