From today's Miami Herald-
A Broward Sheriff's Office polygraph examiner involved in an investigation into how a jail inmate got severe head injuries has a history of manipulating and misinterpreting polygraph tests.So let me get this right. A prisoner is beaten while in a Sheriff's Office custody, whose chief is under investigation by the FBI, who uses a polygraph examiner who has a history of bad ethics, who then loses the records of the polygraph exams he administered. We're all supposed to buy that the records loss and Mr. Whitfield's injuries are not the cause or fault of local law enforcement and people who work for them.
Inmate-informant Benjamin Whitfield told detectives that Dana Jones was beaten and that the Dec. 16, 2005, attack was arranged by guards.
BSO has concluded it could not determine how Jones was hurt, ruling out the informant's account after he failed a polygraph test administered by examiner Richard Hoffman.
Meanwhile, Jones remains in a North Broward nursing home unable to walk or talk, according to a family attorney. The 45-year-old Coral Springs man, who was awaiting trial for punching his mother in the mouth, was in a coma-like state for months after he was hurt.
And now Whitfield's polygraph chart is missing.
''It's not where it was supposed to be filed,'' BSO spokesman Elliot Cohen said after The Miami Herald requested a copy of it. ``It's a crucial piece of the puzzle . . . that needs to be filled in.''
At the center of this is Hoffman, who has admitted to ethical violations on polygraph tests in past cases.
In August 2002, Hoffman testified in federal court in Miami that he violated professional ethical standards.
Hoffman said that under orders from superiors he gave a ''biased'' polygraph test to murder suspect Andrew Hughray Johnson, and then wrote a misleading report about it.
In September 2000, Hoffman admitted that he'd wrongly interpreted the results of his 1999 polygraph test of defendant James Parise.
Broward state attorney's office records show Hoffman initially determined that Parise was deceptive when questioned about the facts surrounding his attempted murder case.
But Hoffman changed his opinion after being challenged by polygraph experts for the state and the defense. They told Hoffman that Parise's test was actually inconclusive, according to a September 22, 2000, internal memo by state attorney investigator Terry Gardner.
Hoffman, asked to review his file, agreed. In a letter to Gardner, he explained that Parise's uncooperative attitude created conflict that ``may have influenced his evaluation of the polygraph charts.''
Hoffman did not respond to an interview request made through Cohen.
Parise's attorney, Gary Kollin, said Hoffman's flip-flop meant his client was improperly denied the opportunity to seek a sentence reduction.
''That Hoffman is still permitted to evaluate the truthfulness of others when he in fact has not been forthright in his evaluations in the past shakes the foundation of the duty of law enforcement to seek the truth,'' Kollin said.
Hoffman, a former Fort Lauderdale police sergeant hired in 1993, is a highly regarded supervisor of BSO's polygraph and case filing units. His personnel file makes no mention of the controversies.
''He has the ability to anticipate what needs to be done and does it,'' a supervisor wrote in Hoffman's most recent evaluation last winter.
Hoffman administered 392 of BSO's 1,072 polygraph tests last year, Cohen said. Most were for pre-employment purposes. Thirteen, including Whitfield's, were for criminal investigations.
Florida doesn't license or regulate polygraph examiners. The results are generally not admissible in court, but the machine that's known as a ''lie detector'' is widely used by police and business as an investigative tool.
What a crock. The more a person reads the newspaper, the more you have to conclude that some of law enforcement are as big a lawbreakers as criminals themselves. If you want a further examples of South Florida police corruption, read this.
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