I just finished reading the North Miami Police Department Internal Affairs Case #2014-02 Investigative Report conducted by Internal Affairs Sergeant Rafael J. Estrugo, and my head is spinning. Read it at your own risk.
This is a brief summary of the events that occurred beginning January 24, 2014, when the first complaint, or Allegation of Misconduct, was filed against North Miami Police Officer Jodlyn Antoine.
Sergeant Estrugo stated that he was authorized by former Chief of Police Marc Elias, Jr. to conduct an Internal Affairs Investigation regarding the complaint.
A woman by the name of Marie Brignol complained that Officer Antoine called her on January 6, 2014 and said, “This is Joe. I need my money,” after which all hell broke loose.
The forty two page report reads like a novel, beginning with Ms. Brignol’s side of the story, moving on to Officer Antoine’s version of the events, and ends with Sergeant Estrugo’s final questions asked of Antoine, under oath, and his surprising responses.
According to Ms. Brignol, she was employed by Palmetto Rehabilitation and Health Center in Hialeah when her purse was stolen “sometime in July, 2013.” She and a co-worker found the purse outside and noted that approximately $2,500.00 was missing. She called the police and made a report. Brignol claimed that the money belonged to Officer Antoine’s girlfriend, Nicole Montina and two other people. She and Montina were co-workers at Brignol’s other job at the Hampton Court Nursing Home in North Miami Beach.
Brignol said she showed the police report to Montina in an attempt to explain why she didn’t have her money, but Montina insisted that Brignol pay her back. According to Brignol’s testimony, she had borrowed a total of $10,000.00 from Montina, but had yet to pay her back any of it.
After the stolen purse incident, Brignol claimed that Officer Antoine started calling her and harassing her to repay the money to his girlfriend. He then showed up at her Hampton Court job on an unspecified date (eventually noted as January 13, 2014), and then again on January 20, 2014, at about 11:30 pm. Even though she had already left work, Brignol’s co-workers testified that Officer Antoine had come to the Hampton Court looking for Brignol. He caught up with her on the third try on January 21, 2014, during which Brignol claims that Antoine “blocked her in” so that she couldn’t move her car to leave the parking lot.
Brignol claims that Antoine said to her, “I want to know when I’m going to get the money. I know you do the Sue-Sue,” to which she replied, “It’s illegal. I don’t involve in that thing.”
Sergeant Estrugo reported, “When asked to describe what Sue Sue is, she explained that it was something done in Haiti. It is used to make money. She failed to explain exactly what Sue Sue is or how it is used to make money.”
Brignol also claimed that Antoine asked her for the money, and she responded with, “if I don’t pay you, there is a court, there is a law in this country.” She said he then threatened her by saying that he knew what kind of car her daughter drove.
On March 11, 2014, Sergeant Estrugo interviewed one of Brignol’s co-workers at the Hampton Court, who testified that Officer Antoine visited her workplace on two nights in January, although she didn’t remember the exact dates. He was looking for Brignol. The first time he was in civilian clothes and the second in a police uniform, while driving a marked police car. The witness claims she knew Antoine from high school, and that he was “very polite.”
It was later discovered by Sergeant Estrugo that on the night that Antoine showed up in his uniform, he was not scheduled to work a regular on-duty shift that day. However, it was also discovered that Antoine worked an off-duty job at the Publix Supermarket located at 12855 NE 6 Avenue, North Miami between the hours of 6:30 pm and 12:30 am. Yet, he somehow managed to show up at Marie Brignol’s place of employment at about 11:30 pm when he was supposed to be working at Publix.
On March 19, 2014, Marie Brignol again contacted the North Miami Police Department claiming that “while at her home in Miami Lakes, Officer Jodlyn Antoine threatened to harm her”. She claims he told her “that he is a police officer who knows good people and bad people,” and that “he was going to have the bad people hurt her and her daughter while he was at work.” The Miami-Dade Police Department was called to respond to her home, and Sergeant Estrugo told “her to remain at her home until I arrive.” A police report was then filed with the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Marie Brignol told Sergeant Estrugo that she received two phone calls that day from an unknown number with a caller ID of “North Miami City,” which turned out to be a pay phone located at the City of North Miami’s Claude Pepper Park. Brignol claims that Antoine threatened her again and said that he won’t be “the one who’s coming. I will be at work in that moment.”
In that interview, Brignol brought up the previous incident in January, stating, “The last time he went in my job, he block my car. How he know my car? Who gave him my tag number?”
On that same day, Sergeant Estrugo contacted then Interim Chief of Police Leonard Burgess “with a detailed update regarding this Internal Affairs Investigation.” The next day, Antoine was notified that he was under investigation and he agreed to “comply with the directives issued.”
On March 20, 2014, the State Attorney’s Office opened an investigation due to “allegations of police misconduct.” On that same day, the Office of Professional Compliance received the second complaint against Officer Antoine.
Sergeant Estrugo also asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to check if Marie Brignol’s or her daughter’s names were searched in the law enforcement databases. The results show that Marie Brignol’s tags were searched on January 21, 2014. This is important to note because on March 24, 2014, Sergeant Estrugo interviewed Officer Paul Laguerre, who advised him that on January 21, 2014, Antoine asked him to “run a tag” for him and “verify the results of the clearance check.” Officer Laguerre complied with Antoine’s request.
Under oath, Officer Laguerre said that Antoine was not working on his shift at the time and that Antoine did not say why he wanted the tag run. He also offered to provide his personal cell phone records for the investigation.
On March 27, 2014, the State Attorney’s Office sent Officer Antoine a “Prior-To Letter,” which afforded him the opportunity to discuss his side of the story “prior to” the filing of criminal charges of extortion, computer offense and harassing phone calls.
On that same day, Officer Antoine received “a formal written notification of Administrative Leave with Pay, pending the outcome of the investigation.”
It wasn’t until May 14, 2014 that the State Attorney’s Office sent a “Close Out Memorandum” to the Office of Professional Compliance advising that “the Complainant’s allegations cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The criminal investigation against Officer Jodlyn Antoine is officially closed by the State Attorney’s Office.”
Interestingly, however, earlier on April 2, 2014, the Internal Affairs report mentions that Antoine had provided the State Attorney’s Office with a “Proffer.” The SAO’s Close Out Memorandum notes that this “Proffer” includes a “Haitian Savings Plan,” which is “potentially a Pyramid Scheme in violation of FSS 849.091,” and which violation was not included in the SAO’s investigation.
Once the State Attorney’s Office closed its investigation, Sergeant Estrugo continued his Internal Affairs investigation, and interviewed witness after witness, including the North Miami Police Officer who took Ms. Brignol’s complaint, Marie Brignol, her daughter and co-workers.
Officer Jodlyn Antoine attended formal meetings, his various and sundry certifications were verified, and his time sheets examined. Police policies and procedures were reviewed, including Take Home Vehicle Agreements, and the whole investigative file was reviewed by the attorney for the Police Benevolent Association on June 6, 2014.
The final chapter of the Internal Affairs Investigative Report was a detailed recount of a taped interview of Officer Jodlyn Antoine by Sergeant Rafael Estrugo, which took place on February 6, 2014, shortly after the initial complaint had been filed by Marie Brignol. It begins on page 25 and continues through page 39.
I am not going to divulge all the crazy details of that interview, except to say that it includes tales of cat fights between girlfriends, jealous rages, alleged stalking and voodoo poison powder.
I told you I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.
Needless to say, Antoine’s version of events varies wildly from Marie Brignol’s. After reading both sides, I have come to the conclusion that both of them are crazy.
But that’s just me.
Based on the purely factual account of this Internal Affairs Investigation, I couldn’t tell you which one of the two is telling the whole truth. Probably neither one, but I do know one thing. Regardless of the he said/she said argument, as a law enforcement officer, I hold Jodlyn Antoine to a much higher standard than I do the complainant.
While it appears that neither of the parties behaved appropriately, it does appear that Officer Antoine violated – by his own admission – Florida laws regarding the use of police database systems (FCIC/NCIC), law enforcement Standard Operating Procedures, and North Miami Police Department General Rules and Regulations, specifically with respect to speaking the truth at all times (whether or not under oath), wearing his uniform outside of his official police duties, and using his take home vehicle outside of his official police duties.
While Officer Antoine denied that his conduct was unbecoming in any way, he did reluctantly admit that he was in violation of “CJIS agreements for using FCIC/NCIC [law enforcement database] for personal use.”
As I stated at the beginning of this blog, you can read the entire report by clicking the link in the first sentence. I promise, it will have you shaking your head.
Please keep in mind that Officer Jodlyn Antoine was on PAID administrative leave beginning March 27, 2014. To the best of my knowledge, Antoine remained on paid leave from that date until sometime in December, when he received a thirty day suspension. (I will post a blog about all the facts surrounding his discipline as soon as I receive the results of my second public records request.)
What I do believe, however, is that based solely on the findings of this Internal Affairs Investigation, there appears to be more than enough evidence to fire this cop.
Only yesterday, Channel 10 reported that Miami-Dade County Police Officer Joshua Zacharias was ARRESTED for lying about how his police cruiser was damaged. He claimed his car was vandalized. But when it was discovered that “he actually struck the security gate as he pulled into the substation and lied about how the damage occurred,” he was arrested by his own police department.
As Miami Chief of Police Rodolfo Llanes reacted when one of his officers violated the law, Miami-Dade Police Director JD Patterson similarly stated, “It is disheartening when an officer has betrayed his fellow officers and the community that he swore to protect. The Miami-Dade Police Department does not condone conduct that undermines the trust of the community and investigates all allegations of misconduct with professionalism and thoroughness.”
With all the violations that Officer Jodlyn Antoine allegedly committed, most by his own admission, I find it incredulous that North Miami Police Chief Leonard Burgess did not fire this dude.
Especially since City Manager Aleem Ghany stated to me that he specifically told Chief Burgess to terminate Antoine.
Yet, somehow, despite an exhaustive Internal Affairs Investigation, which revealed blatant conduct unbecoming an officer, violation of law and protocol, abuse of power and disrespect for the badge, Officer Jodlyn Antoine still has a job.
The bigger mystery is why Chief Leonard Burgess still has his.
“Spreading the Wealth”