Water-gate: Cop filled pool from Lauderdale hydrant
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.