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.