By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
After doing nothing for months, Broward administrators have shut down their investigation into a whistleblower’s complaint that a top official at Port Everglades told him to stop cooperating with county auditors and detectives investigating widespread purchasing card abuse.
Christopher Rosinski, a skilled-trades supervisor in the port’s public works division, filed his complaint with Broward’s Professional Standards/Human Rights section last July, according to a copy obtained by Florida Bulldog.
“I was informed by [Director of Operations] Bob Flint that ‘the county auditors’ were not our friends and do not give them information unless Bob has seen it first and approved it. The same was to happen prior to ever informing BSO of info,” wrote Rosinski, who resigned on Aug. 6, 2018. Rosinski wrote that his boss, public works manager John Walker, witnessed what happened.
The next day, port leaders including Flint were notified by memorandum that an investigation of the matter was under way. Broward’s administrative code requires whistleblower complaints to be investigated and a report written within 90 days.
Instead, nothing was done. And two weeks ago, on April 17, professional standards chief Priscilla Coq sent a letter to Rosinski – with copies to County Administrator Bertha Henry and nine other county officials – declaring that her office was “administratively closing this case and will not be taking any further action on this complaint.” Coq noted that Rosinki’s complaint had been delegated to the County Auditor’s office.
According to Rosinski, however, he filed his whistleblower complaint with professional standards last year at the direction of County Auditor Bob Melton, who since last summer has been investigating the misuse of county credit cards, known as P-Cards, at Port Everglades.
Never investigated, no report
On Monday, Coq confirmed that her office never investigated Rosinski’s complaint and wrote no report. Coq said nothing prompted her to write the April 17 letter closing the case “other than it was being investigated by two entities. It needed to be streamlined.”
Port operations director Flint declined comment through port spokeswoman Ellen Kennedy.
Rosinski sued Broward County in February under the Florida Whistleblower’s Act, claiming he was retaliated against 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 in May 2018. His 13-page complaint describes how what he had to say was met with hostility or indifference by port higher-ups.
Rosinski’s disclosures led county auditors, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office and the FBI to investigate. Numerous current and former port public works employees are under suspicion for having used county P-Cards to purchase plumbing materials that they never turned over to the port. A county source familiar with the investigation has said authorities have identified a decade’s worth of suspicious purchases by just one port worker totaling $1.1 million.
In early April, Melton’s office issued a 34-page interim audit report in the P-Card probe that was harshly critical of port management for allowing current and former employees to repeatedly use county equipment for personal gain and causing health and safety issues tied to the “unauthorized use of county-owned backflow testing kits” and the “inadequate certification of backflow assembly kits.’’ Backflow preventers are designed to stop water contamination by allowing water to flow in one direction only.
Allowed to resign
One plumber, David Dean Moore, was ousted last summer after investigators determined he had used his P-Card to buy faucets, backflow preventer repair kits and brass pipe that was never received by the port. County officials later allowed Moore to resign “in lieu of termination.”
County purchasing records obtained by Florida Bulldog using the state’s public records law show that between April 2016 and May 2018 Moore made more than $117,000 in purchases on his P-Card. The total cost of missing items procured by Moore is not known, but his purchases of those items from just one vendor exceeded $18,000.
The auditor’s report says Moore and former port plumber William Woessner used county property for personal business. Moore also worked for Woessner’s company, All County Plumbing.
Broward County has a “Zero Tolerance Policy” regarding the use of county P-Cards to make personal purchases. “Unauthorized purchases will require reimbursement to Broward County,” the policy says.
In Moore’s case, however, that requirement was apparently not enforced. There is no indication in Moore’s personnel file that the county sought to recover its lost money.