Margate Police Officer Makes

False Statements to Taxpayers


Article Courtesy of The Margate News

By Mitchell Pellecchia

Published March 17, 2013


The question posed to a Margate Police Officer assigned to a special detail at a homeowners’ association (HOA) meeting last week in Margate was simple: “Are you being paid and who hired you?”
Margate Police Officer Anne Clarke said “No” and that the HOA didn’t hire her.  When a homeowner additionally asked why she was present at the meeting, Clarke told him she could attend any meeting she wanted.

As PG III Board member Dave Vola found out, Clarke made false statements in front of about 100 homeowners at the PG III clubhouse the night of February 26th. Not only was she being paid and she knew it, she knew who hired her, as his name; PG III Vice President Phil Beracha, was listed on her Special Duty Detail Request form. Beracha told homeowners too that he didn’t hire Clarke.

HOA Boards, like PG III, often hire police to attend homeowners’ meetings they feel might be heated. The special duty police are paid $28 an hour for a minimum of three hours and have full arrest power. As listed on the Tuesday detail report, Beracha’s reason for hiring the officer was “due to threats and unruly members, order is required – inside security during meeting.”

Although special detail requests don’t allow officers to be hired as bodyguards, it appears Beracha was in fear of being physically

Margate Police Officer Anne Clarke makes false statements to about 100 homeowners last week.

assaulted by homeowners in the community he leads. Board members Vola, Ron Tavia and Betty Murhpy, said they were not aware of the personal protection expenditure for the meeting and were highly disappointed that both Beracha and law enforcement lied in front of the community for no apparent reason.

“I respect Margate Police and think they do a very good job. But this young lady… she really has to get her head in what she’s doing,” Tavia told “This just proves to our community that Beracha is a bold faced liar and now he’s making the police look bad.”

At one point in time during the meeting, Clarke stood up without being acknowledged for having the floor. She asked a homeowner if what they had to say was relevant to the meeting. Her statement prompted the question from another homeowner who asked Clarke why she was there. She didn’t live in the community and didn’t own a home there, emphasized the resident. Clarke was glib and took to the defensive.

When asked how such incidents are handled by the Margate Police Department, Police Chief Dana Watson told that “Margate police officers are expected to conduct themselves as professionals whether they're working "on duty" or on an "extra duty detail". They are bound by Federal and State laws, County and City Ordinances, as well as Margate Police Department [MPD] rules, regulations and policies.”

Although the MPD’s secondary employment policy dictates guidelines for employment, it’s not specific on what constitutes interrrupting meetings held by private citizens. Watson said that a primary responsibility of police is “to maintain order and intercede, when in our opinion, based on our training and experience we perceive a situation may be escalating into a possible breech of the peace.”

Both Vola and Tavia agreed they witnessed no breech of peace, only homeowners discussing heated topics. At no time did they feel the officer or anyone else in the room was under threat of physical violence. “There was no reason for the officer to intercede, let alone lie about it,” Tavia said.

Watson said he’ll look into it if someone files a complaint.

“I will not attempt to make determinations on whether the actions or behaviors of any officer are justified or prudent based on limited information. If you or anyone else believes a Margate police officer acts inappropriately, we have a fair and formal process in which to investigate their behavior or conduct. I can assure you, we investigate all allegations of officer misconduct. Any employee at the police department will be happy to supply a Personnel Complaint Report (PCR) to anyone that makes a request,” he stated in an email.