Say It Ain’t So “Zo”: Florida Police Officer Charged With Witness Tampering

Broward County Detective Anthony “Zo” Costanzo, 42, has been arrested in a remarkable case involving alleged police misconduct, including witness tampering. Known as “Zo,” Costanzo is accused of harassing a woman who brought charges against other officers in a false imprisonment case. Costanzo was previously featured on the Fox program, “COPS.”

Known as “Zo,” Costanzo is charged with tampering with a witness, tampering with or fabricating physical evidence, disclosing confidential information and using a two-way communication device to commit a felony. That last one is a charge that one does not see everyday. Here is that provision:

934.215 Unlawful use of a two-way communications device.

Any person who uses a two-way communications device, including, but not limited to, a portable two-way wireless communications device, to facilitate or further the commission of any felony offense commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.

I have always been uncomfortable with the trend toward making insular aspects of crimes into separate crimes — proliferating charges based on the same conduct.

Costanzo was one of the officers who pulled over the woman and her husband for an improper turn. Five deputies were involved in this rather minor traffic violation and proceeded to search the car and her purse. She was arrested for drug even though she insisted that they were lawful prescriptions — the charges were later dropped.

During processing, the woman noted that the officers reminded her of Fort Lauderdale police detectives Billy Koepke and Brian Dodge, who are the subject of the false imprisonment case. Costanzo is a friend of Koepke and recorded her statements with his cellphone and then sent parts of her statement to the accused officers. He also told Broward Sheriff’s Sgt. Patrick Murray that Koepke was “a buddy” and shows him the recorded conversation. He is accused of later destroying the recording before his phone was seized.

Witness tampering can land you in jail for life in Florida, though this level of tampering would hardly warrant such a sentence in my view.

Source: Sun-Sentinel

14 thoughts on “Say It Ain’t So “Zo”: Florida Police Officer Charged With Witness Tampering”

  1. OK, this is confusing.

    Observant thinks (if I have this correct) that the evidence tampering was being done by Zo in order to help clear a wrongly accused cop.

    Perhaps this belief derives from Professor Turley’s sentence: “Costanzo is accused of harassing a woman who brought charges against other officers in a false imprisonment case.”

    I believe Professor Turley was referencing a civil action brought by the woman against police officers for the wrongful action of “false imprisonment.” NOT THE SAME as a false action brought against police officers for “imprisonment.” In other words, “False” describes the tort she claims the officers did to her, not the nature of her claim itself.

    It could be a “true claim” for the bad act of “false imprisonment.”
    It need not be a “false claim” for the act of “imprisonment,” which would imply that the woman was correctly imprisoned and then falsely claimed the cops had done it wrongly.

    OK, that aside, what this cop Zo did, if he did it, is a VERY serious crime in my opinion. It is little acts like this, all over the place, for the most part unprovable, that proliferate and cause the big cover-ups like the Sandusky case, and cause the big corruption issues like murder and state-supported killing of innocent people convicted of capital crimes. NOTHING LIKE THIS SHOULD EVER GO UNPUNISHED.

    If a relatively minor witness tampering can be discovered, uncovered, and ignored, there is NO DEFENSE against anything that can be done to any of us, when the chips fall. Everything is made of little insignificant acts of wrongdoing.

    About overcharging and charging for things that are only elements or pieces of actual crimes, I think that gets out of hand and I don’t understand the way it’s used very much, but in a situation where you can only charge something like that or the charge would read, “doing bad stuff” or “misusing the power of your office” or “being unfair,” I guess it must do.

  2. The fact that no one in the department thought that what was said in the recording was the important thing (evidence to help clear a wrongly accused cop), but instead covered it up by making a case against another cop is what I find truly disturbing.- More smoke and mirrors to hide the real corruption at higher levels by using a few good guys as scapegoats.

  3. So I sued city officials and a district attorney for malicious prosecution (prosecution without a written statement of probable cause or probable cause itself as retaliation for complaining about extortion and zoning violations followed by defamation at a press conference after the criminal charge was dismissed without an oral hearing violating Colorado statute) and because of that I was ordered to pay $100 K with no Rule 11(c)(6) orders and I was imprisoned without a criminal charge or a bail hearing for 5 months. That’s witness retaliation right? 18 USC section 1513???

    Personally my opinion about 1512, 1513, 242, etc. is that the sentence range should be reduced and the sentences should be reduced but they should always be prosecuted. Currently the punishment for deprivation of rights under color of law, 18 USC section 242, ranges from a $1 fine to a death sentence. All the permutations of federal witness intimidation have a potential sentence up to 20 years, for witness retaliation the permutations range from 10 to 30 years. In my case, I think the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution expires in 2 weeks.

    Once I tried filing a motion for recognition as a crime victim and DOJ filed that 18 USC 242 can only be prosecuted when there is racial animus. That isn’t true under the plain language of the statute and DOJ regularly prosecutes the crime when there is no racial animus.

  4. “I agree with Professor Turley on his concern of using insular elements of crimes as differing offenses.”

    I wondeer what the burglar in my therapy group got charged with for his defecating in the victims bed.

    Littering, , second degree poopery, exposing himself on someone elses property,……???

  5. The use of a two way communication device in a commission of a felony. That’s a new one for me. I’m used to state crimes such as Telephone Harassment, Unlawfully Obtaining Telecommunications Services, Refusal to Yield Line (Where a party line holder refuses to allow another line owner to call for emergency services), Interfering With the Reporting of Domestic Violence. The Telephone Harassment statute in my view is more of a clarification for purposes of jurisdiction, such as the caller’s or the victim’s location. The others are useful and merited.

    The US Government uses Title 18 USC sec.1343 Fraud by Wire, Radio, or Television. Essentially an element of this crime includes that it involve interstate commerce or an ICC.

    I agree with Professor Turley on his concern of using insular elements of crimes as differing offenses. Applying a state level wire fraud type statute is insular. I can understand a federal statute for this due to jurisdictional issues as is the case with our Telephone Harassment law.

    We have a rather curious situation here in our state with regard to Robbery and Burglary. In Robbery the state essentially must prove the defendant committed an act of theft and used or threatened to use violence against another person during or in fleeing therefrom. But, in Burglary, the elements of the burglary may be prosecuted as offenses in addition to the burglary. In other words if a person takes a ten dollar bill from someone’s pocket and shoves them to the ground causing minor injury it becomes Robbery in the Second Degree, If the same act happens inside the victim’s home where the suspect made unlawful entry it could be charged as Burglary in the First Degree, Robbery in the Second Degree, and Assault in the Second Degree (Assault during the Commission of a Felony)

  6. They are having so much fun in Florida these days. Just one more reason to stay away from Florida. Oro, I hope you are right that they are trying to get rid of this felonious cop.

  7. An arrest instead of administrative remedies for this type of activity seems to indicate that higher-ups are trying to get rid of a perceived problem cop. Charges will be dismissed with the understanding that if there is one more screw up, it’s adios muchacho

  8. For a start, how about he get kicked off the force. The worse thing he did was tamper with the evidence by deleting the recording. That should be worth a few years.

  9. Getting harder to tell cops from the criminals all the time, and with recent supreme court decisions, it will really begin to blur.

  10. Radical solution:
    Let’s make all corruption, wítness tampering, etc. capital crimes. We may lose a few witnesses in the processing, but… After 10 years, stats will show the inability of capital punishment to curb the crime. Then we can plead for elimination of all capital punishments.

    Like they say: DNA can’t free a dead man.

  11. It’s my humble opinion that they all be tried, but then evidence is lacking.
    Oh, well, can’t we start a “planting” campaign against the whole bunch.
    Bunch limits as yet undefined. Honey traps would help define the corrupt ones. Like the Feds and NYPD do
    with “terror” suspects they fish up.

  12. Likely can’t disagree with your conclusion but considering the source it seems a harsher sentence would be in order.

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