Deborah O’Flaherty-Lewis, a Broward County, Florida Sherriff’s employee, was arrested Tuesday after she was accused of blackmailing an unidentified victim, asking for cash in exchange for not revealing an affair, news sources report. O’Flaherty-Lewis, 47, was booked into police custody on charges of extortion. It was not immediately clear whether she qualified for bail bond. The press did not specify an attorney for O’Flaherty-Lewis.
According to reports, O’Flaherty-Lewis is a child investigative supervisor as the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO); she has been with the office since 1995. Sources say O’Flaherty-Lewis earns around $81,000 annually. The BSO reportedly suspended O’Flaherty-Lewis from her position without pay pending the outcome of her case.
Based on reports, O’Flaherty-Lewis discovered that someone was cheating on his or her spouse and intended to leak the information if the victim did not compensate her. That person’s identity and their relationship to O’Flaherty-Lewis was not immediately known at press time. It appears as though the victim revealed the situation to the police.
During an investigation, detectives reportedly learned that O’Flaherty-Lewis threatened the victim via text messages and phone calls, allegedly demanding $7,000 in exchange for her silence. Detectives cooperated with the victim and set up a sting operation. On Tuesday night, the victim agreed to drop the cash at a location on Southwest 10th Street in Deerfield Beach, sources say. Detectives camped out in a surveillance van near the scene, and sometime Tuesday evening, O’Flaherty-Lewis allegedly arrived at the location and collected the envelope containing the money. Detectives immediately appended her and recovered the cash.
O’Flaherty-Lewis was not the only Broward County official arrested for an alleged injustice this past week. Franklin Hartley and Thomas Merenda, who both served as Lauderhill police officers, were arrested recently after they allegedly received sexual services from two women in exchange for not arresting them, reports say. Hartley, 33, and Merenda, 34, were apprehended on charges of unlawful compensation and simple battery. Both defendants have since been released on unspecified bail bond amounts. It is unclear whether they have hired attorneys.
Reports say both Hartley and Merenda serve as officers for the Lauderhill Police Department. “I and the men and women of the Lauderhill Police Department are truly disappointed with the nature of the allegations made against these two officers and if they are proven to be true, the consequences should be severe,” a Lauderhill Police Department spokesperson allegedly stated following the arrests.
According to reports, the incident happened around 4 a.m. on May 24, 2012. Hartley reportedly pulled a vehicle over at a Taco Bell on West Commercial Boulevard in Tamarac; inside were two women who had recently left the Vegas Cabaret, both of whom were allegedly intoxicated. Hartley ordered the women to follow him to a secluded area not far from the traffic stop site, sources say.
Hartley, Merenda, and the two women met behind a building on West Commercial Boulevard. There, Hartley allegedly engaged in a sexual activity with the female passenger. Later on, Merenda asked the driver to hit him in the groin, saying it turned him on. Once she complied, the officers let the women go, sources say.