By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
A former Port Everglades supervisor is blowing the whistle on corruption there, including “widespread” purchasing card abuse by port employees and Broward County’s failure to protect him from retaliation.
Chris Rosinski, who worked as a skilled trade supervisor from April 30 to Aug. 22, 2018, sued Broward County under the Florida Whistleblower’s Act on Feb. 14.
A key to Rosinski’s claim is that he was the victim of repeated retaliation by county employees after he reported P-Card abuse and the unauthorized use of port property and equipment to superiors during his first month on the job. His 13-page complaint describes how what he had to say was met with mostly hostility or indifference by port higher-ups.
After presenting more substantial evidence of P-Card abuse to Deputy Port Director Glenn Wiltshire and others in late June, Rosinski was required by county rules to make a statement to and cooperate with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He continues to assist investigations by both BSO and the Broward County Auditor’s Office.
In the face of growing hostility and harassment “unchecked” by the county, Rosinski submitted his resignation on Aug. 6.
Two days before his departure, however, Rosinski met with longtime County Administrator Bertha Henry. A few days before, Rosinski had offered to rescind his resignation if steps were taken to protect him.
Meeting with Bertha Henry
But Henry apparently wasn’t interested in keeping Rosinski, though she was concerned about what Rosinski had to say about threats to the county auditors.
“During that meeting no attempt is made to keep plaintiff with Broward. However, in response to security concerns voiced by plaintiff over the physical safety of auditors, Henry assigns port security provider Allied Universal to escort auditors for their work,” the complaint says.
Rosinski soon joined the city of Fort Lauderdale – albeit at a lesser rate of pay and with none of the county’s generous benefits, including a pension. Henry could not be reached for comment.
Other odd things came from management, the complaint says.
A month earlier, on July 13, Rosinski was told by Director of Port Operations Robert Flint to stop cooperating with BSO and the auditors unless he cleared it in advance with Flint or Wiltshire. “This makes [Rosinski] uncomfortable that the port director is asking [him] to keep information from an active investigation,” the complaint says.
The complaint asserts that port public works employees were allowed to run contracting companies to compete with Broward County, which offers repair services to vendors. It says those employees did repairs on county time for vendors like International Warehousing Services, a company that Florida Bulldog reported Wednesday was allegedly occupying nearly twice as much warehouse space in the Foreign Trade Zone than it was paying for.
David Moore was a port plumber supervised by Rosinski who was fired last August – “after a very limited investigation” – when it was determined that he had abused his P-Card to buy faucets, backflow preventer repair kits and more than 100 feet of brass pipe that were never received by the port, according to a Broward County report. The county later allowed Moore to resign “in lieu of termination” after his union complained.
A room to hide port records
According to Rosinski’s complaint, Moore tried to recruit him into the “P-Card purchasing scam” last June 21. Rosinski didn’t bite, but “during that attempted recruitment, Moore showed plaintiff a hidden room in the port plumbing shop where port records were hidden.”
“This results in plaintiff later dumpster diving at the direction of his supervisor, John Walker, to retrieve records disposed of by Moore. Plaintiff later is followed by [AFSCME Local 2200 president and Moore union representative] Howard Hibbert who is keeping notes on what plaintiff and Walker are doing. This occurs after regular business hours,” the complaint says.
On Saturday July 21, Rosinski locates an invoice that shows a company owned by supervisor Efrain “Frank” Garcia “is doing work on port, using port employees, possibly with port equipment, on port time at location of port tenant.” That apparently conflicts with county rules regarding outside employment, the complaint says, but Deputy Port Director Wiltshire told Rosinski in a meeting that “is not an issue.”
The next day, County Auditor Bob Melton has Rosinski deliver files to him downtown “due to fear that the records could be destroyed. Numerous records of Garcia and others performing possible high-dollar theft are handed over,” the complaint says
Garcia could not be reached for comment.
On July 24, port personnel boss Kathy Gillock calls Rosinski in for an interview and asks if he has “knowledge of an investigation into Flint, [Deputy Director of Port Operations Jeffrey V.] White, Garcia and [employee Jorge] Camacho. She justifies Flint keeping information from auditor and BSO, and directs plaintiff to remember his place in the organization. When plaintiff clarifies county, Gillock reasserts ‘organization.’”
A week later, during an “airing out session” organized by Flint, White and Gillock, port leadership allows Garcia and Camacho to question Rosinski repeatedly about the investigation. “Flint and Camacho also try to elicit statement from plaintiff which could lead to plaintiff’s investigation or ouster. During that meeting Camacho repeatedly screams plaintiff should be fired immediately; administration present allows this to go on without objecting, or in any way protecting” Rosinski, the complaint says.
A record of that confrontation apparently made its way to Henry, which led to her meeting with Rosinski a few weeks later.
The lawsuit accuses county administrators of putting Rosinski “in harm’s way” and cost him lost income. He seeks to recover unspecified damages.