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Mermaid-Snooping Broward Deputy to Face Criminal Review

Broward sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Mellies appears to have abused his authority when he dug up protected driver’s license information on several swimmers who perform in the mermaid show at the Wreck Bar on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

But did he commit a crime?

That question will be addressed by state prosecutors once the Broward Sheriff’s Office completes an internal affairs investigation into Mellies’ actions, according to an email the agency sent to an attorney representing the mermaids in their federal civil suit, which names Mellies and Broward Sheriff Greg Tony as defendants.

“The case is still open and active,” BSO Capt. Barry Lindquist wrote in the April 18 email. “Additionally, the case will be submitted to the State Attorney’s Office for criminal review.”

In their federal suit, mermaid performers Whitney Fair and Janelle Smiley allege that Mellies violated their privacy when he accessed their personal information on the Driver and Vehicle Information Database (DAVID), a confidential law enforcement resource that includes photographs, addresses, social security numbers, and other sensitive information.

State records show that Mellies used his BSO computer to run DAVID checks on Fair and Smiley in 2018, at a time when his wife, Mia, was performing with the pair in the Wreck Bar’s mermaid show, which is billed as the only underwater burlesque show in America.

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About the Author: Bob Norman is an award-winning investigative reporter who serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Florida Trident and journalism program director for the Florida Center for Government Accountability.