Wa­ter-gate: Cop filled pool from Laud­erdale hy­drant

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Brit­tany Wall­man Staff writer

A Fort Laud­erdale po­lice of­fi­cer is in hot wa­ter for us­ing a city fire hy­drant to fill his home swim­ming pool.

Of­fi­cer James Hayes is fac­ing a one-day un­paid sus­pen­sion for un­be­com­ing con­duct. A cit­i­zen review board agreed with the rec­om­mended dis­ci­pline ear­lier this week.

An anony­mous let­ter writer tipped off the city to the al­leged wa­ter-gate, point­ing the fin­ger at Hayes, his wife, Stylia­nee Di­ami­an­ides, also a po­lice of­fi­cer; and Fort Laud­erdale Fire­fighter Capt. Ja­cob Snowhite. The po­lice cou­ple were ac­cused of park­ing marked Fort Laud­erdale po­lice ve­hi­cles around the hy­drant to “con­ceal their ac­tions from pub­lic view,” the city’s in­ter­nal af­fairs depart­ment said in a memo. Snowhite was named as an ac­com­plice — the one who pro­vided the hose.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors took the al-

lega­tion se­ri­ously, ven­tur­ing out the next day to seek wit­nesses or sur­veil­lance video. They ex­plored the cou­ple’s his­tory of wa­ter use and pro­duced bar charts about it, the in­ves­tiga­tive re­port de­tails.

Hayes ad­mit­ted to sup­ple­ment­ing his home gar­den hose with the city fire hy­drant, when he was asked by in­ves­ti­ga­tors in Jan­uary. He said he asked Snowhite, his “buddy” from the city SWAT team, for a fire hose, and that Snowhite said he had ex­tra hoses at home that his kids used “for work­ing out.” Snowhite told in­ves­ti­ga­tors it was “an old trash hose,” and he couldn’t re­mem­ber if he’d given Hayes ad­di­tional tools to open the hy­drant.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors con­cluded that Hayes worked alone when he tapped thou­sands of gal­lons of wa­ter with­out pay­ing. But they ac­cepted his ex­pla­na­tion that he didn’t know what he was do­ing was wrong.

“Of­fi­cer Hayes stated he was not aware us­ing the wa­ter from the hy­drant was im­proper since it was an ac­cept­able prac­tice when he lived in Michigan,” a city memo sum­ma­rized.

“It never crossed my mind once that you couldn’t do that down here,” he told in­ves­ti­ga­tors in his sworn state­ment. “There was ab­so­lutely zero in­tent for un­law­ful us­age of city wa­ter.”

The pool holds 7,500 to 10,000 gal­lons of wa­ter; val­ued be­tween $36.60 and $61, the city es­ti­mated.

Dimi­an­ides and Snowhite told in­ves­ti­ga­tors they were not present dur­ing the si­phon­ing of city wa­ter, which re­port­edly took place last Au­gust. Hayes de­nied in­ten­tion­ally block­ing the view of the hy­drant with his po­lice car. And in­ves­ti­ga­tors cleared him and Dimi­an­ides of us­ing their po­si­tion as po­lice of­fi­cers, con­clud­ing there was no con­nec­tion be­tween their roles as of­fi­cers and the im­prop­erly filled swim­ming pool.

The State At­tor­ney’s Of­fice de­clined to pros­e­cute.

Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice Union Pres­i­dent Mike Tucker had no com­ment on the case.

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