Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa police accuse one of their own of disclosing undercover operation

TAMPA — Police accused a civilian employee in their own department Thursday of revealing confidential information that closed down an undercover operation.

Beverly Harvin, 47, tipped off a relative to an undercover buy of stolen guns focusing on him and others, police said. She was arrested and faces a charge of criminal disclosure, a felony.

"It is a huge blow to the department to have this type of betrayal," said Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy. "These were very dangerous suspects who sell assault rifles and shotguns — the most dangerous weapons on the streets."

Harvin has worked for the Tampa Police Department for 25 years and, until Wednesday, served as an investigative assistant at the District I station at 3818 Tampa Bay Blvd.

According to Tampa police, longtime data entry clerk Priscilla Phillips, 57, noticed that a nephew of Harvin's was included in a Jan. 16 internal memo involving an undercover gun buy.

The memo described three people, including the nephew, as being heavily armed and warned officers to be cautious if they came across them during the investigation.

Phillips took a cell phone photo of the memo and sent it to Harvin, police said.

Then Harvin alerted her brother and nephew, who was never arrested as part of the investigation.

Police got a tip in January telling them the three were aware of the memo, McElroy said.

"If these officers went to make the buy and the bad guys knew it, they could have been killed," McElroy said. "Public safety and officer safety are our top priorities. Disclosing this information jeopardized both, and we can't tolerate that."

Undercover officers suspended their operation and an investigation began into how the information got out.

"We had to subpoena phone records, and one of the mobile phone companies was uncooperative," McElroy said.

Investigators recently received the records, which led them to interview Phillips and Harvin on Wednesday.

Phillips cooperated and provided the cell phone photo to interviewers.

Both women admitted to passing along the information, McElroy said.

They have been suspended without pay until a city employee disciplinary hearing can determine their fates.

Harvin was released from the Hillsborough County Jail on Thursday after posting $2,000 bail. She and her attorney did not return messages Thursday.

Although police said the undercover portion of the investigation was called off, McElroy said an inquiry into illegal gun sales is continuing.

This is the second incident involving the inappropriate conduct of a Tampa Police Department civilian employee in a little more than a year.

Carolyn Riggins was fired in July 2010 after an internal investigation found she hindered a manhunt for her nephew, Dontae Morris, by not revealing that her daughter had a close friendship with him, feeding information to her daughter and withholding the whereabouts of people officers were looking for.

Morris is suspected of shooting and killing Tampa police Officers Jeffrey Kocab and Dave Curtis in June 2010.

Tampa police accuse one of their own of disclosing undercover operation 08/25/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 25, 2011 11:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.