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    FORT LAUDERDALE - Two Broward Sheriff's Office deputies have been charged with conspiring to distribute more than 100 pounds of cocaine as part of an undercover sting, federal prosecutors said today.

    Deputy Richard V. Tauber, 37, a 14-year veteran of the department, was arrested after a 10-month undercover investigation found the officer accepted bribes to protect shipments of cocaine, as well as Krugerrands and diamonds used to pay for the drugs, authorities said.

    Deputy Kevin Frankel, 38, who was hired in 2006, served as a look-out for Tauber at the Pompano Beach airport as Tauber helped load a plane with 50 kilograms of cocaine, prosecutors allege .

    Following Tauber's arrest June 18, he agreed to cooperate with the FBI and recorded conversations with Frankel discussing plans to sell cocaine. Both officers worked in Deerfield Beach.

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    Criminal complaint against the defendants (PDF) The investigation into Tauber began 10 months ago when Sheriff Al Lamberti uncovered problems with the officer's behavior and contacted the FBI, U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta said.

    Two longtime friends of Tauber, Robert Thomas Baccari, 38, and Christopher C. Provenzano, 37, were also charged in the scheme, which was foiled by an FBI undercover sting.

    Tauber, Baccari and Provenzano live in Boca Raton, while Frankel lives in Lake Worth.

    Tauber, Baccari and Provenzano all believed they were working with a New York-area crime organization and a Colombian drug distributor, but actually were dealing with undercover FBI agents, prosecutors said.

    Bail was set at $600,00 for Tauber, and bond hearings for the other men have been scheduled for Thursday morning.

    The arrests are the latest brought by federal prosecutors against South Florida law enforcement officers in the past 18 months.

    Two weeks ago, FBI agents charged two Miami officers with a series of crimes, and last year, four Hollywood police officers pleaded guilty to helping traffic heroin and running protection for a series of crimes they believed were being committed by mobsters.

    "Today, we announce another prosecution of corrupt police officers, who have sold their badges and betrayed their colleagues,'' Acosta said. "I want to thank the Broward sheriff for bringing this matter to the attention of the FBI. I also want to take this opportunity to thank all the honest men and women of law enforcement.''

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