Former ethics top cop admits to corruption
By JIM WALLS
March 23, 2015 — The state ethics commission’s former top investigator pleaded guilty today to federal corruption charges.
Robert Bentivegna, as a Dunwoody police detective in 2011, misused his access to the Georgia Crime Investigation Center’s database in exchange for valuable gifts for himself and his family, federal prosecutors said. He pleaded guilty to computer fraud today.
In a news release, the U.S. Attorney’s office said
In July 2011, Bentivegna, a career law enforcement officer employed at the time with the Dunwoody, Georgia, Police Department and who had also served as a federal task force officer, began using an individual connected with a variety of illegal activities as a confidential informant.
In exchange for valuable personal items for himself and his family, Bentivegna performed searches and informed the confidential informant about any active arrest warrants listed under the informant’s name in the Georgia Crime Information Center (“GCIC”) database. Such information can be valuable information to criminals, allowing them to flee before authorities can arrest them. In exchange, over the course of approximately 18 months, Bentivegna received airline tickets for himself and his wife to travel to New York, his daughter received a convertible car which she used for over a year, and his son received a car to drive for a period of time.
Bentivegna was one of six veteran police officers hired by the commission in 2006 to strengthen ethics enforcement and potentially build criminal cases. He was promoted to director of the investigations unit later that year after the first one was fired.
The commission gradually disbanded the unit, its members having been dismissed or leaving in frustration.
“I’m just a cop at heart,” Bentivegna told me in a 2012 interview. “I believe if you did something wrong, you should pay the price for it.”
Bentivegna will do just that on June 1, when he is set to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May.