The former head of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office elite SWAT team was arrested by his colleagues today and charged with exploitation of a disabled adult, possession of oxycodone and grand theft of a firearm.
Lt. Dan Burrows, 46, surrendered to PBSO‘s Internal Affairs this afternoon and is still being processed at the county jail.
Gossip Extra broke the story last week that Burrows, a high-ranking union representative of the powerful Police Benevolent Association, was quietly removed from SWAT command and entered into rehab for an addiction for pain pills.
Another story revealed the existence of an investigation into how Burrows obtained his drugs: By allegedly stealing them from retired Dep. Mike Collister, 51, a cancer-stricken former Burrows SWAT subordinate and friend whom Burrows often visited.
Today’s arrest comes as Sheriff Ric Bradshaw – who’s running for reelection and made of fighting the proliferation of pain killers a focus — faced increasing criticism from his troops for allowing Burrows to go to rehab with no apparent punishment for his actions.
Chief Deputy Mike Gauger, Bradshaw’s second in command, said tonight that the criticism and vitriol was unfair.
“We were doing our job all along,” Gauger said. “We were investigating but we don’t feel the need to tell everybody until the job is done. When had enough to charge (Burrows), we had him come in and arrested him.”
According to the arrest report, however, PBSO Det. John Van Houten was ordered to investigate Burrows on Jan. 20 — on the day after the scandal was brought to light in Gossip Extra.
Meanwhile, here are the details of what authorities believe Burrows did, according to the arrest report:
Longtime SWAT member Collister was diagnosed with terminal cancer in May 2010, according to the arrest report, and died Jan. 10. As Collister wittered away, Burrows, a friend and colleague of 20 years, allegedly stole more than 100 of Collister’s oxycodone pain killers.
Collister’s wife, lawyer Bettee Collister first noticed in early December after a Burrows visit that four of five oxy pills disappeared from a dresser in the couple’s bedroom.
After the incident, the Collisters decided to keep Mike’s medicine in a gun-safe in their garage, according to the paperwork.
On New Year’s Eve, however, Bettee Collister says she received a text-message from Burrows, saying he wanted to see Mike’s gun collection. Bettee had to leave the house. Mike was in the care of a relative with instructions not to allow Burrows in the safe.
Burrows, however, went into the bedroom where Collister slept, woke him up and allegedly talked Collister into going to the garage to open the safe. The relative said he saw Collister sit on a chair in front of the open safe with Burrows.
When Bettee eventually returned home, she said she found Mike was mentally exhausted and Burrows in the possession of a sniper rifle that belonged to Mike. Burrows said Mike Collister told him he could have it, but Bettee told police her husband had no intention to sell or give away any of his guns.
After Burrows left, Bettee Collister eventually figured out another rifle was missing, as well as 99 oxy and codeine pills.
On Jan. 3, Burrows was taken to a rehab center by friends not identified in the arrest affidavit. He allegedly admitted to having a pain pill addiction for eight years — the years during which he was called to respond to volatile situations at the head of the SWAT squad.
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