Monday, October 26, 2009
7 News Investigations: Sex, Lies and Videotape
Another South Florida law enforcement officer has brought disgrace to the badge. This time in North Miami it's a story about sex, lies and videotape. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with the exclusive.
WSVN -- 28-year-old Alexander Zaharis was considered a good officer by the North Miami Police Department, but that changed when this video tape showed up.
It's a sex tape. Police say Zaharis recorded it during three interludes with a young woman. She had no idea a camera was hidden in a baseball cap and filming her every move. In addition to graphic sexual encounters, the woman is seen playing with the officer's gun. Zaharis even gives her a lesson on how it works.
Alexander Zaharis: "When you shoot this whole thing doesn't come out of the gun like people think."
Then she parades around in his city issued police uniform shirt.
Woman: "Stick em up! This would be the perfect costume it's short enough."
North Miami Police have not been able to determine if any of this took place when Zaharis was supposed to be on duty, but they do know it happened in an apartment at Johnson and Wales University where Zaharis sometimes worked security off duty.
The school allowed the use of the apartment as a courtesy to give Zaharis time to rest between jobs.
North Miami Police Department Lieutenant Neal Cuevas: "The department and the city was unaware that Johnson and Wales had such an arrangement with any of our officers."
A school security officer discovered the tape and turned it over to police.
Lt. Neal Cuevas: "And quite frankly, yes we were very shocked. It's not the kind of conduct that we would expect from our employees, whether they are sworn or civilian."
When police searched his squad car they found a cardboard sex game, a sex toy catalog and later six photographs of a naked woman were found stashed in his first aid kit. In a search of his desktop computer, authorities found 18 images of women and men either naked or engaged in sexual activities, and on his police issued laptop they found more than 500 similar pictures.
Neal Cuevas: "This is definitely one of those situations that can be considered a disgrace to the badge."
Carmel Cafiero: "Zaharis could have been charged criminally with video voyeurism over the secret taping, but he cut a deal. Since the woman in the tape did not want to testify, Zaharis was allowed to resign from the department and give up his law enforcement certification, permanently."
Meanwhile, there is a second woman on the tape who also may not have known she was being recorded. If she comes forward, the department says Zaharis could end up facing another criminal investigation.
Alexander Zaharis's attorney sent us a brief statement pointing out he will not be charged with a crime, and that the former officer will not discuss the case out of respect for all involved.