By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
A Broward judge has ordered Sheriff Gregory Tony to declare under oath whether or not he’s ever been a defendant in a criminal case.
That’s a question Tony has resisted answering for months, either under oath or in response to a reporter’s inquiries. Now, Broward Circuit Judge Michele Towbin Singer has given him 20 days to say yes or no.
Tony’s job and even his liberty could hang on his answer.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement Inspector Keith Riddick announced in court papers filed in November that the department “has an open and active investigation into the allegations that Gregory Tony may have falsified required affidavits associated with his sworn law enforcement officer status and/or falsified official law enforcement employment applications.”
Fort Lauderdale attorney Tonja Haddad Coleman first asked Tony the question under oath at a Dec. 17 deposition. Tony wouldn’t answer, so a few days later Coleman asked Judge Singer to order Tony to answer, contending it was a proper line of questioning. In turn, lawyers for the sheriff asked the court to either terminate the deposition or limit it so Tony wouldn’t have to answer.
Coleman represents a trio of former Sheriff Scott Israel’s top brass – Stephen Kinsey, a former undersheriff who is today chief of police in Davie, and former Colonels John “Jack” Dale and James Polan – in the case. They contend Tony wrongly refused to honor promises made by Israel that BSO would pay them their earned, accrued an unused sick time leave when they resigned or retired. The promises were made days before Gov. Ron DeSantis removed Israel and replaced him with Tony on Jan. 11, 2019. Tony contends he was under no obligation to honor Israel’s promises.
Tony’s criminal history became a matter of public concern last May after Florida Bulldog first reported that when Tony was 14 years old and living in a crime-ridden Philadelphia neighborhood he shot and killed a young man. Tony has said he killed in self-defense, although his account is disputed by the dead man’s girlfriend. Tony was acquitted in juvenile court a year later, in 1994, according to a police homicide report. All other records in the case are sealed.
Further questions arose during last year’s election campaign – which Democrat Tony won decisively –when copies of two Philadelphia docket sheets emerged that purported to show that as a juvenile in 1992 and 1994, Tony was twice placed on adult probation. The docket sheets, however, do not show the charges against Tony or their disposition.
Judge Singer’s two-page order, filed Monday night, says that “in lieu of another deposition” Tony will be asked about his criminal history in a pair of written interrogatories.
If Tony acknowledges that he was a defendant in a criminal case, he’s also to provide the style of the case – that is, the name of the charging agency – the state and county, the case number, the charges and the disposition.
Tony was not required to publicly disclose any juvenile cases or proceedings against him. However, “Sheriff Tony shall disclose this information, as well as a certified copy of disposition(s), to the Court for an in camera review. The Court will then determine whether such information is subject to disclosure to the Plaintiff” based on Florida laws and rules, Singer’s order states.