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Tampa police gave out seized Bucs tickets

For years, Tampa police officers working security at Tampa Bay Buccaneers games gave confiscated, scalped tickets to friends and family members so they could watch the Bucs play, according to an internal affairs investigation released this week.

But no disciplinary action was recommended for the Tampa police captain accused of being involved in the practice because she has since retired and moved across the country. And no other police officers who participated in the ticket use face investigation or discipline.

Police officials say the practice stopped months before longtime police Chief Bennie Holder retired in August 2003.

Misuse of Bucs tickets was only one of several allegations that Sgt. Borthland Murray leveled in August 2003 against his superior, Capt. Jill Marks, head of Internal Affairs from 2001 until she retired in January.

Steve Hogue, who became police chief a year ago after Holder retired, ordered the investigation last fall after learning of Murray's complaints to Holder.

Investigators found that the practice of officers and their friends using scalped tickets had been going on at least since 1998 but stopped in the 2002-03 season _ as soon as Holder found out about it and ordered it to end.

In many cases, officers would direct friends or relatives to seats they knew would be empty because tickets had been confiscated after being scalped.

Amanda Turner, a former department employee, told investigators that Marks offered her and her husband free tickets to Bucs games, but they never took any.

"We were both kind of appalled, really," Turner said. "I didn't know if she was kidding or not."

In his statement to investigators, Holder said he didn't think he needed to look into the tickets issue further because as soon as he found out about it, it ended.

"What are you going to do? Go back 26 or 30 years, however long the Bucs (have) been in existence, and investigate all that?" Holder said. "No, some things when it's brought to your attention, I'd say okay, now, that is wrong it will stop."

Murray, Marks and Holder have declined to comment.

Murray also accused Marks of manipulating Internal Affairs investigations to get the outcomes she wanted. He also said Marks mismanaged the IA department by letting employees get away with misconduct, such as overbilling the city for work.

In a May 27 memo concluding the investigation into Marks, IA investigators told Hogue they could not substantiate those claims, partly because they had questions that could be answered only by people who no longer work for the Tampa Police Department.

Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler can be reached at svansicklersptimes.com or (813) 226-3373.

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