NO DUE PROCESS

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - JOHN GOODBREAD

Broward Sher­iff’s Sgt. John Goodbread was in his doc­tor’s of­fice in Florida for a rou­tine phys­i­cal some­time in 2003 or 2004 when he felt the pain in his lower back.

“He had me do one of these ex­er­cises as part of the phys­i­cal, bend over type of thing, touch your toes, see what your range of mo­tion,” Goodbread would later tell po­lice. “As I was bend­ing over, I stopped be­cause the lower back just seized up.”

The doc­tor is­sued Goodbread a pre­scrip­tion for hy­drocodone. It was the first of many pain pre­scrip­tions from sev­eral doc­tors that would re­sult in a crim­i­nal case against Goodbread.

In March 2011, a de­tec­tive in Palm Beach County got a tip sug­gest­ing that Goodbread and his then-wife, Heather Goodbread, “may be in­volved in doc­tor shop­ping” — a prac­tice in which some­one seeks the same or sim­i­lar pre­scrip­tions from mul­ti­ple doc­tors, ac­cord­ing to a sum­mary of the case later in­cluded in the ar­bi­tra­tor’s rul­ing.

Crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­gan look­ing into the al­le­ga­tions that Goodbread and his wife had ob­tained pre­scrip­tions from four doc­tors’ of­fices, court records show.

On April 8, 2011, Goodbread and his wife were ar­rested and even­tu­ally charged in state court with traf­fick­ing Oxy­codone and with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion from a prac­ti­tioner, both felonies. The cou­ple’s ar­rest made lo­cal head­lines, and the Broward County Sher­iff’s Of­fice sus­pended Goodbread with­out pay.

“I was com­pletely caught off guard,” Goodbread, a for­mer nar­cotics of­fi­cer who has con­sis­tently main­tained his in­no­cence, said in an in­ter­view with The Wash­ing­ton Post. “Some­body else had used my name to get those ’scripts. I had noth­ing to do with any­thing.”

In April 2012, his wife pleaded guilty to with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion from a prac­ti­tioner and was put on pro­ba­tion un­der an agree­ment that with­held an ad­ju­di­ca­tion of guilt. She would later tes­tify dur­ing her hus­band’s ar­bi­tra­tion hear­ing that she was the one who had called in pre­scrip­tions in her hus­band’s name and that he had not been aware of her scheme. She even­tu­ally com­pleted her pro­ba­tion, court records show. Nei­ther she nor her at­tor­ney could be reached for com­ment.

In Jan­uary 2013, Goodbread pleaded no con­test to one count of with­hold­ing in­for­ma­tion from a prac­ti­tioner un­der an agree­ment that de­ferred crim­i­nal prose­cu­tion. He was or­dered into a pre­trial in­ter­ven­tion pro­gram, which he com­pleted in a mat­ter of months, and the case was dis­missed.

The Broward Sher­iff’s of­fice fired him.

The lo­cal po­lice union ap­pealed. The union ar­gued that the depart­ment had not con­ducted a full in­ter­nal af­fairs in­ves­ti­ga­tion but in­stead had re­lied on ev­i­dence gath­ered dur­ing the crim­i­nal probe. There­fore, the union ar­gued, Goodbread’s fir­ing had been based on “hearsay.”

“His wife had ad­mit­ted to mis­rep­re­sent­ing her­self to get the med­i­ca­tion,” said Michael Braver­man, the at­tor­ney who rep­re­sented Goodbread. “But the depart­ment didn’t give [Goodbread] even the most min­i­mal amount of due process.”

In a Dec. 20, 2013, rul­ing, ar­bi­tra­tor Robert Hoff­man sided with the union. He con­cluded that there had not been an ad­e­quate in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion by po­lice and that Goodbread had been de­nied due process.

Hoff­man ac­knowl­edged that Goodbread’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in a di­ver­sion pro­gram could be con­sid­ered con­duct un­be­com­ing an of­fi­cer, but the ar­bi­tra­tor did not think it mer­ited his fir­ing, given the in­ad­e­quate in­ter­nal af­fairs probe.

“Lesser dis­ci­pline could re­sult if the record did not con­tain se­ri­ous due process con­cerns,” he wrote.

Hoff­man or­dered Goodbread re­in­stated with back pay. In a video on Face­book, Goodbread thanked the po­lice union for help­ing him get his job back.

Goodbread told The Post that with­out ar­bi­tra­tion, he would still be out of a job for some­thing he did not do. “Have I seen it where the ar­bi­tra­tion process may not work per­fectly? Sure,” Goodbread con­ceded. “But it’s there to pro­tect the rank and file . . . . Ba­si­cally, it’s our union look­ing out for us to make sure that we don’t [get] wrongly ter­mi­nated.”

Goodbread

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