Broward sheriff’s sergeant shoots self after release from jail – Sun Sentinel
A veteran Broward sheriff’s sergeant is in grave condition after shooting himself Wednesday evening, less than eight hours after bonding out of jail where he was held for six nights on 29 charges related to child pornography and illicit sex.
Sgt. Kreg Costa, 43, was rushed to Broward Health MedicalCenter with a “self-inflicted gunshot wound,” said Veda Coleman-Wright, a spokeswoman for the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed the shooting at 7:15 p.m. “It did happen,” he said. He declined to say more. The shooting occurred at Costa’s home in the 9100 block of Sunset Strip in Sunrise.
“Costa is listed in grave condition,” Coleman-Wright said. “As you can imagine [Costa’s wife] is devastated. His wife and children need our prayers and support.”
Sunrise police got a 911 call about 5:30 p.m. Costa was found outside on the side of house. There were no witnesses and nobody was home with him when he shot himself, Officer Chris Piper said.
Sheriff’s officials listened to the 911 recording and confirmed that the caller’s voice belonged to Costa, Piper said.
Bondsman Dave Collins, of American Surety Company, helped arrange Costa’s bond. They spoke by telephone Wednesday afternoon after Costa’s release.
“I would say he was in shock,” Collins said. “He wasn’t speaking, he was trance-like.”
Costa had promised to call Collins at 9 a.m. Thursday, Collins said. “I never got to see him,” Collins said.
Costa was arrested June 9 after hidden cameras planted in his Weston office showed he spent three to four hours per midnight shift perusing online child porn featuring underage girls, incest, bondage and domination and having cybersex chats with a California teen, authorities announed last week.
Costa posted $250,000 bond and was released at 10:57 a.m. records show. Conditions of his release forbid him from spending time alone with his five children, ages 3 to 12.
Costa’s lawyer, Jamie Benjamin, could not immediately be reached for comment.
All the charges stem from Costa’s online activity with a 16-year-old California girl, identified online as “Babygirl.” She was 15, and told Costa so, when they began communicating last August. Over eight months, Costa engaged in sexually charged conversations with her and coaxed her into supplying him with a steady stream of sexually explicit photos and videos of herself, a two-month investigation revealed.
At a news conference last week, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel denounced the road patrol supervisor’s alleged actions as “disgusting.”
“These charges are deeply disturbing. These allegations, if true, are reprehensible,” Israel said. “We’re not going to stand for this type of behavior. It was illegal, it was immoral, and it tarnished the badge.”
The investigation is ongoing and detectives think there could be more victims.
“Every citizen accused is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, even a law enforcement officer,” Benjamin said in a statement last week. “We will diligently investigate and defend against these serious charges. Based on our investigation, we believe our client will be exonerated of all charges.”
According to an arrest affidavit, the investigation was triggered by Costa’s odd on-duty behavior.
“Staff noticed that Sgt. Costa had been acting strangely in the late-night hours during his shift,” the affidavit said. “He was reportedly not leaving the office and remaining in the patrol sergeant’s office with the lights off with both his uniform and gun belt removed. After being counseled several times by his superiors, he continued the behavior.”
Investigators next installed hidden cameras in Costa’s office to monitor his activities. The surveillance confirmed that while at work, “Costa was viewing hardcore pornography” and recorded him taking photos of his penis with his cellphone camera, documents show.
In past assignments, Costa worked with the task force that battles online exploitation of children. He was once CEO of Sawgrass Youth Sports Sunrise, a youth football and cheerleading organization, records show.
Surveillance of Costa’s online chats with “Babygirl” showed he regularly cajoled her into sending nude images and videos of herself performing sexual acts, and promised to return the favor with “a special pic” of Daddy.
“This investigation showed that Sgt. Costa utilized his training and experience working with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to seek and lure in a child, who was a 4.0 grade-point-average high school student from a churchgoing family, and manipulate and groom her for his sexual gratification,” the affidavit said.
On June 2, investigators traveled to California to meet with the girl and her parents.
In a sworn statement, the girl confirmed her email address and the Twitter accounts she used to communicate with Costa, starting when she was 15. She said knew Costa was in his 40s, lived and worked in Florida and was married with children. She did not know he was a law enforcement officer, the affidavit said.
She tearfully told detectives “she was uncomfortable with the things [Costa] would ask her to do and she did not know why she agreed to do them.” She said she “thought it was helping her be more confident” but concluded that it did not, the affidavit said.
When she revealed to Costa that she was “really insecure,” he told her that “no matter what, she was beautiful” and when she twice tried to cut off their communications, Costa reeled her back by saying, “God forgives,” the affidavit said.
Costa has worked for the Broward Sheriff’s Office since April 1999. He was advised April 24 that he was under criminal investigation and suspended with pay. He was arrested June 9 when he showed up for a training class at the sheriff’s headquarters on Broward Boulevard. His suspension was immediately converted to unpaid.
Personnel records list Costa’s salary last year at $146,000, including more than $10,000 in overtime.
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