Palm Beach Post staff writer Bill Douthat reports on alleged impropriety in the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. The allegations involve polygrapher Harold Thomas Sorensen, a member of the Florida Polygraph Association. Excerpt:
A sheriff’s polygrapher who gave a lie detector test to the daughter of his boss failed to properly report her deceptive answers about past drug use, an investigation has concluded.
Reviews of the polygraph chart of Lori DeMario “clearly indicate deception,” an internal affairs report says.
DeMario, who took the test as part of her application for a sheriff’s office job, is the daughter of Frank DeMario, who was internal affairs commander in January 2000 when the test was administered by Harold Sorensen, a deputy who worked under DeMario.
After doing the polygraph, Sorensen noted there was “no significant information nor any consistent deceptive responses,” the internal affairs report says.
But two re-readings of the polygraph chart by veteran polygraphers shows deception on two questions of past drug use, said investigator Sgt. Steven Thibodeau.
“The professionals said it was blatant, that it just jumped out on the pages,” Thibodeau said.
The investigation, released this week, found Sorensen committed official misconduct and violated the sheriff’s code of ethics for overlooking Lori DeMario’s deceptive answers. Because Sorensen, 56, retired last July, he’s not subject to any discipline.
Sorensen has done nothing wrong, said his attorney, Michael Salnick. “I’ve never seen a police officer so badly slandered in a IA (internal affairs report) than this one,” Salnick said. “This is a good guy who, for some reason, is being victimized.”
Lori DeMario, 30, who was hired as a drill instructor at the sheriff’s Eagle Academy for troubled teens, was not cited for any wrongdoing.
The Internal Affairs report noted that Frank DeMario recommended in September 2000 that Sorensen attend a three-month school at Fort Jackson, S.C. The training, which was not required for Sorensen’s position, cost the sheriff’s office $12,169, the report said.
In November 2000, a month before he left the sheriff’s office, DeMario recommended a one-time special merit increase in pay for Sorensen, adding $153 a month to his salary.