Palm Beach County Sheriff Lt. Dan Burrows, the former commander of the SWAT team, was found not guilty of possession of a controlled substance in a jury trial this week, and cleared of all criminal charges in one of the most shocking law enforcement scandals in memory.
Burrows, 47, was accused of stealing a prized rifle and pain killers from a former deputy who was dying of cancer last Christmas.
The development is the latest in a saga that the administration of Sheriff Ric Bradshaw desperately tried to keep quiet at first, and divided the top brass unsure of what to do with Burrows’ refusal to take a drug test.
Burrows wasn’t investigated until Gossip Extra reported the hushed up incident!
A high-level member of the Police Benevolent Association, the lieutenant was rushed into rehab as soon as word spread that he had an Oxycontin addiction.
In time, however, Burrows was arrested and charged with two counts of theft, exploitation of a disabled person and possession of a controlled substance.
Prosecutors dropped the first three charges before trial, and a jury Tuesday at the West Palm Beach courthouse found Burrows not guilty of the remaining charge.
“My client just didn’t do it,” said Craig Williams, Burrows’ lawyer. “There was a lot of hearsay and that’s why the State Attorney dropped three of the charges.”
As for the trial, Burrows’ alleged victim, former SWAT deputy Mike Collister, did not testify. He died in January.
“They were best friends,” Williams said. “Had (Collister) been there, there probably wouldn’t have been no trial.”
The trial took less than one day, and Williams presented no witnesses for Burrows. Burrows is still on administrative leave pending an internal affairs investigation, a PBSO spokesman said.
The scandal rocked the sheriff’s department as Bradshaw, who’s vying for a third term, placed an emphasis on the arrests of doctors illegally dispensing the same pain killers as those allegedly stolen by his subordinate.
After the Burrows affair exploded, Bradshaw launched an investigation into how the leaks to Gossip Extra occurred. Internal Affairs boss Capt. Larry Easton abruptly retired while his subordinate, Lt. Larry Johnson, was charged with four felony counts of leaking secret information.