What began as a custody dispute involving two Delray officers who were once all spouses, ballooned into one of the most glaring instances of police corruption in a county that is well known for it.
Lt. Nicole Guerriero, who was then the head of internal affairs, filed stalking charges against her ex-wife, Bethany Fedorenchik, for sending derogatory texts. Fedorenchik was forced into desk duty and required to turn in her badge and gun. Guerriero also filed a restraining order against her and prevented her from seeing the couple’s children.
A Palm Beach Post investigation revealed that Guerriero had conspired with several members of her department’s top brass to engineer the charges against her ex-wife.
Fedorenchik Defense Attorney Takes Matter to PCU
Nellie King, Fedorenchik’s defense attorney, took the matter to the State Attorney’s Public Corruption Unit but was stonewalled by the department. King believed that the PCU’s unwillingness to investigate serious charges against their department allowed a perfect environment for corruption to fester. King later discovered that the detective who investigated Fedorenchik was a friend of Guerriero and managed to net over $5,000 in overtime thanks to the stalking investigation.
Fedorenchik has now gone on the offensive filing a civil suit against the city for malicious prosecution. King stated publicly that she believes Guerriero used the apparatus of the law to settle a personal vendetta against her former wife.
While Guerriero insists that she is the victim of a crime, a police ethics expert said the investigation should have been conducted by another office, not by a detective who is close personal friends with the victim and stood to receive a considerable amount of overtime at taxpayer expense.
The investigation was initiated five days prior to Guerriero filing for divorce. She approached her long-time friend, Detective Stephanie Baker, and told her that Fedorenchik had become “obsessive” and was sending her threatening texts. The two appear in a social media photo together with Guerriero writing the caption “My Girl Steph”. Steph’s investigation concluded that Fedorenchik had written 200 texts that were “concerning” although in none of them could be found an overt threat of violence. The text messages do show that Fedorenchik vacillated from expressing her undying love and making vicious insults.
At one point Guerriero does ask her to stop texting for any other reason than to discuss their adopted daughter. However, there was no written approval to conduct the investigation in the first place and, at one point, Baker said she asked Guerriero to get approval and Guerriero indicated that she had.
Many police departments across the country have policies that prevent officers from investigating individuals with whom they have a personal relationship. Delray is not among them.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been accused of a serious crime, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A., and schedule an appointment. We can help.