By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
The Republican candidate for Broward sheriff and three others filed suit Friday evening contending that incumbent Sheriff Gregory Tony, a Democrat, is apparently a convicted felon and if so is disqualified from holding office under the Florida Constitution.
With the general election upcoming Tuesday, the lawsuit threatens to throw the vote for sheriff into chaos.
The lawsuit asks a Broward judge for an immediate hearing on the matter, and to compel the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to produce “all documents in its possession relating to Tony’s criminal history and felony convictions” and also make its employees with knowledge of Tony’s criminal past available to testify. It also seeks a declaration from the court as to whether Tony’s qualification as the Democratic nominee for sheriff is proper.
FDLE has been investigating Tony since early May when Florida Bulldog reported that on Jan. 7, 2020, the sheriff signed an FDLE affidavit declaring under oath that he never had a criminal record sealed or expunged. The affidavit came to light five days after the Bulldog disclosed that Tony shot and killed a man in Philadelphia when he was a 14 years old in 1993 and that all court records about his case were sealed.
Tony has said he killed in self-defense and that he was cleared of wrongdoing at a trial in Philadelphia juvenile court. But relatives and friends of the dead man, Hector “Chino” Rodriguez, dispute Tony’s account and say it was an act of cold-blooded murder. Because the court case is sealed, the dispute continues.
A number of informed sources have said that the FDLE has obtained law enforcement records from Philadelphia documenting Tony’s youthful felonious criminal history – an alleged history that nevertheless was not until very recently reflected on the city’s criminal court dockets.
Tony twice on adult probation
The lawsuit includes as exhibits copies of two docket sheets that purport to show that as a juvenile Tony was twice on adult probation in Philadelphia, in 1992 and again in 1994. Oddly, however, the dockets do not state the charge against Tony or its disposition.
“Based on conversations with authorities from Philadelphia, the convictions and probations were for felonies,” says the lawsuit brought on behalf of Republican H. Wayne Clark, Independent Charles E. Whatley and two Democrats who ran and lost to Tony in the August primary, Al Pollock and Santiago C. Vazquez Jr.
Notably, Tony’s closest primary opponent, former Sheriff Scott Israel, did not sign on to the lawsuit.
The suit accuses the FDLE of failing to adequately vet Tony when Gov. Ron DeSantis removed Israel and appointed Tony as sheriff shortly after being sworn in as governor in January 2019. On June 6, 2020, Florida Bulldog reported the cursory nature of the FDLE background investigation that failed to learn that Tony had killed a man or that he’d once been rejected for a police job after admitting he had used LSD.
Likewise, the suit accuses unelected Broward Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci of not enforcing the constitutional requirement that bars convicted felons from holding office. It says Antonacci failed to ask Tony to provide proof that he was acquitted of Rodriguez’s murder, and contends that Tony has refused to provide certified copies showing the disposition of the murder case as well as the two matters for which he was placed on adult probation.
Tony has not responded to Florida Bulldog’s prior requests to allow a reporter to view his Philadelphia court case.
“As a result of Tony’s actions, Antonacci’s oversight of this law and FDLE’s failure to vet and timely investigate Tony, plaintiffs, all Broward County taxpayers and qualified candidates for the Sheriff of Broward County position, have now had to expend time and resources challenging this qualification as their only recourse in the matter and will be irreparably harmed if Gregory Tony is allowed to proceed in the 2020 election,” the suit says.
The lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case are Deerfield Beach’s Darren P. Covar and Roger W. Powell of Cooper City. Candidate Clark is also a lawyer in the case. He works for a Miami law firm.
Carl Bollinger / October 30, 2020 9:44 pm
This is the result of a country run by pedophiles.
James Harn / October 30, 2020 10:10 pm
Gregory Tony is accountable for all of his alleged past actions and his misrepresentations of those behaviors. If a convicted felon, the Governor must remove him from office. He rightfully removed a Sheriff for his unrepentant conduct surrounding the deaths of 17 children at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, 2018 and 5 adults at the Fort Lauderdale Airport in 2017. Who suffers, when Tony is removed by the Governor, the nearly 2 million citizens of Broward County.
Now, what to do about the Governor’s actions, he knowingly placed a person without the qualifications for the position of Sheriff of Broward County into Office. He will most likely be forced by the Courts to remove Tony.
Get ready FDLE Special Agent(s) that conducted the background investigation on Gregory Tony, you will be the Governor’s low hanging fruit. This lawsuit, I believe will produced evidence in Court that will prove that is more likely than not that the Governor is the only person responsible. Then what? Whatever happens, Broward’s reprehensible situation cannot be addressed a few days before a national election. We must hold our breath, ok that was a bad metaphor, breath and vote.
Florida’s system of an elective Sheriff, with the Governor as the only arbiter, is the problem. After this election the citizens of our State must begin to reevaluate this system with Broward County as the leader.
Jack Moss / October 31, 2020 9:05 am
Can juveniles be convicted as felons?
Doug / October 31, 2020 12:40 pm
I’m not sure that the Supervisor of Elections is even ALLOWED to vet the qualifications of a candidate for office, let alone REQUIRED to do so. I think they are required to accept a candidate’s credentials at face value. This is to prevent SoEs from being able to torpedo or damage anyone’s quest for elected office for reasons that could be politically motivated.
Likewise, I seriously doubt that there is any legally enforceable Standard of Diligence that FDLE or anybody else has to meet when vetting anybody for any position. With the exception of background checks done under a contract, where there are contractual “performance guarantees.” Those would be very rare, IMO, and not in play for the FDLE or this action. (A general member of the public could not sue for a contract violation, only a party to the contract could do that.)
These two parts of the lawsuit are public posturing.
And a deliberate waste of the court’s time. (Seen Monte Python’s Cheese Shop skit?)
The lawyers involved should be sanctioned for filing frivolous lawsuits. There’s WAAAAAY to much of this kind of thing going on, and tolerated.
However, the main claim that Tony may not be qualified to hold the office due to prior felonies could be legit, if having a juvenile felony adjudication is always disqualifying for the office of Sheriff, and if Tony does in fact have one. I don’t know about the first, and the second is To Be Determined.
Bye Bye Tony / October 31, 2020 12:41 pm
If true he is a convicted felon the medical examiner of Broward has the power to remove him.
Jan Moss / October 31, 2020 1:54 pm
Yes if tried in adult court (twice).
N. Worthy / November 1, 2020 9:55 am
I notice Tony is NOT DENYING this is any way….
Broward resident / November 1, 2020 6:28 pm
This is Broward County, why should anyone be surprised.
RK / November 1, 2020 9:28 pm
Get over it, the people already select the man as sheriff already
G. Hoyer / November 1, 2020 9:49 pm
Scott Israel‘s Attorney is a large benefactor of your website and the lawsuit you are referring to was withdrawn. I find your reporting of Gregory Tony to be very bias.
Bye Bye Tony / November 2, 2020 2:51 pm
The lawsuit was not withdrawn. There’s a hearing on Thursday
Broward citizen / November 3, 2020 12:23 am
How do you figure that the people of Broward county have already decided. No election has been held yet. Tony was installed by the governor and not elected by the citizens of broward. The governor has only complicated and muddied the sheriff situation here in Broward. This whole situation is a disgrace and the governor should do the right thing and remove Tony as he failed to due his own due diligence in vetting him. The sheriff of Broward county controls a budget second only to the governor of Florida, and as such is potentially the second most powerful position in the state. Shame on Desantis for hurriedly making a bad decision on someone he didn’t even know, nor has the experience to hold the office of sheriff. If Tony had been elected sheriff prior to Desantis taking office and this information on Tony then came out, he would have removed him from office. The only reason he’s not removing him now is because it would reflect negatively on himself. This mess coupled with the clerk of the courts debacle and all the supervisor of elections failures just continue to make this county the laughing stock of not only Florida but the entire country. I’m embarrassed to tell people I live here!
Jason / November 9, 2020 2:50 am
The votes are in. This is nonsense. To be real here… cops routinely lie on police reports and are NEVER EVER charged with felonies. This is selective enforcement at its dirtiest.
Revealing an expungement is an oxymoron. How do you reveal something that by law never happened?
It would seem to me it shouldn’t be this hard to find a criminal history.
If you lost an election – get over it.
VOTER / November 10, 2020 11:45 pm
He’s elected get over it, let the man do his job!!! Such hateful people leishmaniasis we could dig up your past! We all have one! He’s doing a great job go find a way to help instead of tear down! Pollock you should be ashamed of yourself!!!
John McMahon / November 15, 2020 9:12 am
JASON ! Wow! You actually said… “How do you reveal something that by law never happened?” Hey you may be an uninformed little snowflake who lives in your safe space dream world , but law enforcement applicants are required by law to report and swear IF they were ever even detained by police for anything of a criminal nature , however Greg Toney never reported that he shot his friend , fled the scene then was arrested and held for trial in 1993. Thankfully though I will call the dead man’s mother and sister and tell them Jason said that her murdered son is OK and it “NEVER happened” ! Christmas time is coming so his daughter will be excited to meet her father Gregory Toney never shot five times in the head ! Thank you Jason!
Retired BSO civilian / December 13, 2020 3:25 pm
Even the lowest ranking employee of any Department whether sworn or unsworn knows – lying on your application – lying on a voice stress test – lying on a polygraph are all grounds for termination.
For those who have said that Tony’s sexual escapades are his business, they are not. BSO’s Policy & Procedures manual strictly prohibits immoral behavior or behavior which would reflect badly on the Department. To Broward residents who say they can’t blame him – he would never have gotten hired without lying – police / sheriff’s department work like this. When you apply – you tell EVERYTHING you have ever done wrong, down to parking tickets. Then it’s up to the Department in question to choose whether to take a chance on you. There are so many things he did worthy of termination I can’t list them all. I commend the 4 former Candidates for joining in suit to bring all of these things out in the open, on record and to the public. This man is not eligible for any sort of Sheriff / Police position anywhere. He must go back to hawking emergency blood kits.
I wish to God Al Pollack had gotten in the race sooner. He would have one once the public got to know him. He is a man of integrity and honor.