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DeSantis rush job: Records show feeble FDLE screening of Broward Sheriff Tony

Gov. Ron DeSantis introducing new Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony to the public at BSO headquarters on Jan. 11, 2019

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office didn’t ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct a background check on Gregory Tony until the day before DeSantis announced that Tony was his choice to be Broward’s next sheriff, according to state records obtained by Florida Bulldog.

The result: a cursory inquiry by the FDLE’s Office of Executive Investigations that failed to find out that Tony had killed a man when he was a teenager living in a poor, urban neighborhood in Philadelphia, or that he’d once been rejected for a police job after admitting he had used LSD.

In fact, the FDLE’s one-page report to the governor fails to meet even the state’s most basic standards for screening job candidates.

The governor’s decision to install Tony as Broward sheriff appears to have been  so rushed that his office did not even have Tony fill out an “Appointments Questionnaire” that’s routinely provided those seeking gubernatorial appointments.

Among the seven-page form’s questions: “Have you ever been arrested, charged or indicted for violation of any federal, state, county or municipal law, regulation or ordinance?” Tony answered no to that question on a number of other forms, sometimes under oath, until admitting to it in response to questions from Florida Bulldog on May 2.

Instead, Tony submitted two items: a six-page resume touting his educational and professional achievements and a one page biography. “Grew up in the crime-ridden street of Philadelphia’s inner city. As a young teenager Greg had dreams and aspirations of being a police officer. When drugs and violent crime were consuming the majority of his peers, Greg took to sports to find an escape,” his bio began.

While it took FDLE a day to do its background check on Tony, it took the governor’s office a full month before it released that lone page late Friday in response to a public records request by Florida Bulldog. A half-hour later, FDLE coughed up the same report, plus five more pages about the matter.

Request for background inquiry

DeSantis was sworn in as governor on Jan. 3, 2019. The records show that on Jan. 10 a member of his transition team, Makenzi Mahler, submitted a request for a background inquiry.

During his campaign, DeSantis promised to remove and replace Broward Sheriff Scott Israel. He suspended Israel on Jan. 11 for “neglect of duty and incompetence” for mishandling the police responses to the February 2018 slaughter at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the January 2017 mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Parkland father Andrew Pollack spoke at Sheriff Tony’s introduction in January 2019

Tony was sworn in on Jan. 11, 2019, that same day, as Broward’s first black sheriff. He was recommended by Andrew Pollack, the father of slain Parkland student Meadow Pollack, who’d met and become friendly with Tony while working out at a Coral Springs gym.

The FDLE’s response, which handwritten notes indicate was delivered to the governor’s office also on Jan. 11 just hours before Tony’s swearing in, was written by analyst Getavius Zachary, and approved by crime intelligence analyst supervisor Kelly Kimsey.

The report informed the governor that Tony had no criminal record with either the Florida Crime Information Center or the National Crime Information Center databases, and had never been arrested by or been a subject of an investigation by the FDLE. The Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported Tony had one prior traffic infraction.

A search of court records turned up information that in January 2000, while a college student in Tallahassee, Tony was charged in Leon County with a misdemeanor for “fraud-insufficient funds” for writing a bad check for under $150. The case was dropped two years later. Broward Court records showed that Hollywood’s Memorial Hospital filed a $107,000 medical lien against Tony in 2009, but had released the claim in January 2011.

Employment history not checked

Tony does not appear to have been asked questions about his employment history, or where he sought work.

The Sun-Sentinel reported May 19 that the Tallahassee Police Department had rejected Tony in 2004 after Tony admitted he had once used the hallucinogen LSD. Tony wasn’t arrested, but the department denied him, saying it had “zero tolerance for felony drug use.”  The FDLE report, however, does not mention this incident.

There is no indication that FDLE investigators attempted to check out Tony’s employment history, notably the Coral Springs Police Department where Tony became a police officer in 2005 and rose to the rank of sergeant before resigning amid tensions with superiors in October 2016.

Likewise, the report does not address the approximately two-year period before Tony became sheriff and when he was out of law enforcement and working at North American Rescue, a South Carolina “casualty care” company, and at his own firm, Blue Spear Solutions, in Broward County.

In his resume, Tony discussed his work for Blue Spear but made no mention of North American Rescue.

Florida law provides for two types of employment background checks, Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1 includes “but need not be limited to” employment history, statewide criminal checks and a search of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website, “and may include local criminal records checks through local law enforcement agencies.” Level 2, the standard used for investigating police chiefs, includes using fingerprinting for federal and state criminal history checks.

Tony, who was to become boss of one of the nation’s largest local law- enforcement agencies, would appear to have warranted a Level 2 check. The FDLE report and accompanying documents, however, make no mention of Tony’s fingerprints.

Among the documents released by the FDLE was a “Consent to Background Screening” signed by Tony on Jan. 10, 2019, the day before he was sworn in. Tony signed the form personally before a notary in St. Johns County.

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Latest comments

  • The take away from this is .. there’s a few people that should not hold the position as a public servant.

  • This is all political bad mouthing in an effort to get Scott Isreal elected. I hope that the residents of Broward County use good common sense when going to the polls In November and cast their vote for Sargent Tony. He has legitimately earned his rank over the years. Like most “journalists”, you like to stir the pot. The bottom line “your guy failed the residents of Parkland” that is something that will never be forgotten. Mr. Isreal has served his time and it is time for him to move on.

  • Thin skinned and unqualified to be Sheriff . No support from African American staff and Community.
    Pathological liar as every day the bull dog has uncovered something.
    Nasty attitude in general and has demonstrated he retaliated against ever body at BSO who has been crustal if him.
    Lied on applications time after time.
    He should be removed now.
    No one even mentions his swinger lifestyle as he was pictured wearing Daisy Dukes with his almost nude wife and some dude.
    Where was the Governor during the protests hiding in the bunker with Trump.
    I laughed when I saw the Thurstin protest and they labeled him Temporary Tony.
    He’s a republican.

  • Like his mentor, Donald Trump, DeSantis was more concerned with pleasing his supporters or finding someone that will be loyal to him, as opposed to finding the best qualified candidate !!

  • leave the sheriff be –he is doing a great job and he has toughness and compared to what we had hey leave him to do the best he can…he nver stole a freight train and I like the guy….these lawmen are so overloaded how do they even sleep at nites.

  • Being that an ELECTED Sheriff is the highest authority in a county, how is it that the Governor can remove him from office and “appoint” a new one without an election process????
    Weird Florida UNCONSTITUTIONAL LAW??

  • Vote for Al Pollack for Sheriff!

  • Every minute that phoney entitled liar is the so called sheriff is disgusting. This con artist is currently under criminal investigation for admittedly falsifying a sworn affidavit , that he was never arrested when he was charged with murdering ( executing ) his friend with head shots. Afterwards he c!aimed self defense which none of the evidence supports such as the crime scene at the curb , not in the house. No weapon for the murdered friend Chino was ever produced. Toney ran from the scene and never waited for the police and only came up with self defense myth after the fact. Toney has admitted using LSD, admitted deliberately lying on ALL his sworn police applications and now uses double speak to try to convince you he was never even detained when he was locked up for a week. Toney (his real last name) actually shot out a window with people inside while answering a domestic call in Coral Slrings! This embarressing liar has been video taped dancing in full uniform on stage at community events grabbing his crotch and pointing at girls in the crowd. That may work for you at Bliss Greg but your wearing the same Star and uniform MANY Broward County deputies died wearing at the hands of murdering drug users like you. So when I hear you yelling at friends of our fallen brother behind that hospital or screaming at your terrified command staff, I can just imagine how livid you were when the unarmed Chino taunted you that day in 1993, and you had time to run back outside , shoot him In the stomach, then finish him off with five more to the head like a dog. You are a disgrace to every cop who was truthful on applications and proudly wears that Star that I wore for forty years. When we ever meet, I will tell you that to your face.

  • THANK YOU Mr. McMahon! WELL DONE!

  • Unbelievable … I am embarrassed and sadden for Broward County citizens. This is unacceptable behavior by our leaders. First we deal with the Scott Israel corruption ;to benefit him politically he targets 1 BSO deputy to try and keep his political career , as a scapegoat Then a parkland parent influencer slips Sheriff Tony into the position to ensure they can manipulate and have access to the justice legal system. Goodness I pray for us all. Thank you for seeking the truth with unbiased agenda.

  • On check Kathryn S. I bring to your attention an article in today’s Sun Sentinel, titled “Newly released records shed light on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ hurried vetting of Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony”

    Note and I quote; Helen Ferre, a Desantis spokeswoman defended the vetting process Monday. She states: “Sheriff Gregory Tony was initially vetted during transition and a review of his personnel files demonstrated a strong record as a police officer,” she said in an email. “He came highly recommended by prominent members of Parkland families.”

    Desantis is allowing “prominent Parkland families” who lost their loved ones to DECIDE who Broward County’s Sheriff should and will be???!!! Obviously he did! If this is NOT POLITICAL, THEN I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS! Utterly despicable!

  • Vote for Santiago Vazquez

  • This continued news supports my very valid suspicions that the two interrogations and police report in the records are fraud, false as it is suspected sheriff taking report knew the accused and accepting evasive answer and not giving his real identity as occupation which is juris attorney but auxillary state trooper and full time Salesman. Why? Serious criminal issues that need to be exposed. I think this is true because when Sheriff Tony heard my message to the Chief Office, he wanted a VA to interview me. I gave all credibility to The Chief and was excited. However, when I got the call, it became apparent that she was putting words in my mouth and I would react with that is not what happened; she said I talked too much when I have only learned the truth of the severe traumatic event in 10/2019 after 12 1/2. I persevered so the day may come when the truth was known and I could expose this person for who he really is and then learn that the tape for him is a cover up and mine was cut and pasted as seen by the PhD as she did not want how she treated me and badgered me on the tape. The Doctor said I suffered trauma from that situation when I had just come out of shock and I was urged to do a police report. I did. Did not know for 10 years the assailant is different in job status; reason for being law enforcement which was to use his badge for his advantage and more. I have reported to the FLDLE.

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