By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
Four months ago, Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony signed a Florida Department of Law Enforcement affidavit declaring under oath that he never had a criminal record sealed or expunged.
The Jan. 7 affidavit – notarized, signed and dated boldly in blue ink by Tony – comes to light amid news that Tony shot and killed a man in Philadelphia when he was a teenager in 1993 and that all court records about his case are sealed.
The form includes a notice above Tony’s signature that it constitutes an official statement under the law and that any “intentional omission” or “false execution…shall constitute a misdemeanor of the second degree and disqualify the officer for employment as an officer.”
Under Florida law, a second-degree misdemeanor is punishable by “a definite term of imprisonment not exceeding 60 days” or up to a $500 fine.
On his annual financial disclosure form last June, Tony reported his annual sheriff’s salary to be $188,262.
Tony acknowledged the shooting on Saturday when first questioned about it by Florida Bulldog.
“When I was 14 years old, growing up in a neighborhood in Philadelphia filled with violence and gang activity, I shot an armed man in self-defense. The juvenile authorities reviewed my actions and cleared my name,” Tony wrote in an email. “This was the most difficult and painful experience of my life and I have never spoken of it publicly.”
The dead man’s girlfriend disputed Tony’s account, saying Hector “Chino” Rodriguez was unarmed, and that no gun tied to him was found at the scene.
In various subsequent one-on-one interviews, Tony contended he kept the matter a complete secret all these years – failing to disclose it when applying for law enforcement jobs and not informing Gov. Ron DeSantis before DeSantis named him as sheriff in January 2019 – because he didn’t believe he was obliged to do so because he’d been acquitted at trial before a Juvenile Court judge.
Florida law requires all “employed or appointed” law enforcement officers to complete a sworn affidavit provided by FDLE’s Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission attesting to his or her compliance with various state employment requirements. The commission’s mission: “to ensure that all citizens of Florida are served by criminal justice officers who are ethical, qualified, and well-trained.”
Among other things the affidavit asked Sheriff Tony to answer true or false to this statement: “I had a criminal record sealed or expunged.” Tony checked false.
Tony did not respond to a request for comment about the affidavit.
Questions without answers
While Tony has submitted to numerous interviews with television and newspapers about the matter, he has declined to be interviewed in person or by phone by Florida Bulldog. On Tuesday, he stopped answering our follow-up questions seeking clarification.
For instance, when asked if he would be willing to assist in substantiating his account by waiving confidentiality in Pennsylvania in order to obtain and share his complete juvenile court and police records, he did not respond.
Tony likewise did not respond when asked about his assertion in several interviews that he had not been arrested following the shooting. He said that by way of explaining why he didn’t disclose his homicide arrest on forms he filled out in 2005 to become a policeman in Coral Springs. Tony checked “no” when asked if he’d ever been arrested and again when asked if he’d ever been “detained by any law enforcement officer for investigative purposes” or “have you ever been the subject of, or a suspect in, any criminal investigation.”
According to a Philadelphia police homicide report obtained exclusively by Florida Bulldog, however, the District Attorney’s Office “approved charges of Murder, PIC and PUFA” the next day. PIC is a charge for allegedly possessing “an instrument of crime.” PUFA refers to Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act.
The charges were formally issued by “Arrest Warrant #201631 signed by Bail Commissioner Schlagman,” the report says. Tony surrendered the same day, accompanied by an attorney and bond was set a week later at $15,000. After that, the case was transferred to Juvenile Court.
Finally, Sheriff Tony would not help clear up significant discrepancies in his account of the shooting. He told interviewers that after an argument Rodriguez, the 18-year-old man he killed, had pulled a gun, threatened he and his family and chased Tony inside his home before Tony grabbed his father’s .32-caliber revolver and fired multiple shots first.
“He went into our home armed with a gun,” Tony told The Miami Herald on Sunday. “He was in the home. I shot him in the house and fortunately he didn’t shoot me and my brother.”
But the homicide report says this: “The investigation revealed that the scene was in front of 2828 N. Hutchinson St., & the victim was shot by a Gregory Scott 14/B/M, residence 2828 N. Hutchinson, during the course of an argument.” (Tony’s name is misstated and misspelled several times in the two-page report.)
Rodriguez’s mother, Norma Rodriguez, and his then-girlfriend, Maritza Carrasquillo, are in agreement with the police account. In separate interviews with Florida Bulldog, they said Tony shot Hector Rodriguez from the front stoop of his home while Rodriguez was standing on the sidewalk six to 10 feet away.
Similarly, the Philadelphia Daily News quoted Tony’s stepfather, William Scott, as saying that immediately after the shooting he saw “this kid lying in the street.” The newspaper account made no mention of Rodriguez entering the home.
Also, it is noteworthy that the report makes no mention of any gun owned or controlled by Rodriguez being found at the scene.