By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
When state prosecutors decided in January not to charge Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony with felony perjury for lying under oath on his application for a replacement driver’s license, the prosecutor’s memo announcing and explaining that decision omitted significant facts.
The facts are contained in the tape-recorded, sworn statement of the Florida driver’s license examiner who took Tony’s license application. Florida Bulldog obtained a copy of examiner Brittni Romero’s oral statement from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement using the state’s public records law.
A two-year FDLE investigation determined Tony lied repeatedly about his past when applying for law-enforcement jobs and training, including keeping secret his 1993 arrest for murder in Philadelphia when he was 14. Tony, who was later acquitted in juvenile court, declined to be interviewed by FDLE agents.
Most of Tony’s numerous false statements, which deliberately “misled public servants in the performance of their official duties,” were impossible to prosecute because of Florida’s Statute of Limitations, according to the FDLE’s 15-page report. But Tony’s alleged perjury at the Lauderdale Lakes driver’s license office on Feb. 1, 2019 – just 22 days after his appointment as sheriff by Gov. Ron DeSantis – were another matter.
Tony had gone to the driver’s license office in uniform to legally obtain a new license that would remove his home address and replace it with his address at the sheriff’s office. He was accompanied by his then-executive officer, now BSO Col. Munib Ahmed.
PERJURY PROBE FALLS FLAT
FDLE had recommended that Tony be charged with felony perjury after determining he “knowingly and willfully” lied when he told examiner Romero he’d never had his driver’s license suspended in any state when in fact Tony’s Pennsylvania driver’s license had been suspended five times.
But Anthony Kunasek, special prosecutions chief for Fort Myers State Attorney Amira Fox, rejected FDLE’s recommendation and declined to prosecute Tony in a close out memo that cited what he said was examiner Romero’s “original uncertainty” about Tony in her sworn statement to FDLE:
“When asked by the FDLE agent, ‘do you remember if you asked him, if you specifically asked him, ‘has your driving privilege ever been revoked, suspended or denied in any state?’ the clerk answered, ‘I don’t remember. That’s the first question, so I probably did, but I don’t remember one hundred percent if I asked him that.’ The fact that the clerk, later in her statement seems to be more confident of her having asked the Sheriff the pertinent question, does not undo her original uncertainty.”
Kunasek continued, “The clerk’s testimony would be paramount in any criminal prosecution of Sheriff Tony regarding the alleged allegations. In fact, the prosecution would need to rely completely on the clerk’s testimony…The clerk’s uncertainty as to whether she actually asked Sheriff Tony the questions, and his actual answer, was then documented by the clerk, precludes the state from being able to prove the criminal allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Following Fox’s office decision, Gov. DeSantis announced that he would review the case. So far, though, the governor has said nothing more about Tony.
NOT THE FULL STORY
It turns out now, however, that the cross-state prosecutors, who handled Tony’s perjury case after Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor punted, didn’t tell the public the full story.
Kunasek’s characterization of Romero’s testimony doesn’t mention that Romero, both before and after that part of her statement, said she always asks the revocation/suspension question of applicants because it is on the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) required list of questions.
For example, toward the outset of Romero’s 17-minute testimony FDLE Inspector Keith Riddick asked, “Do you ask those every time?”
“Yes,” Romero said.
“That’s required by your training? Yes.”
As Kunasek’s memo says, “The issue that causes concern involves the actual answer to the question in question, and how that answer was received and electronically documented. The allegation is that Sheriff Tony provided the “no” answer to the pertinent question asked by the clerk.”
But Kunasek’s report then misrepresents the significance of what Romero had to say about how she processed Tony that day. Kunasek said Romero “initially stated that she may have marked or ‘pulled over’ information from a previous application as she was trying to hurry or rush Sheriff Tony through the process.”
The implication: that Romero had mistakenly pulled over Tony’s “no” answer from an earlier form.
But in a separate interview DHSMV Systems Evaluation Unit manager Barbara Peacock had told FDLE that was not possible. “Ms. Peacock stated that ‘the system’ and the examiner’s training did not allow for an applicant’s answer from a prior driver’s license examination to be ‘brought over’ during a new exam,’” the FDLE report says. “Questions were asked during every application process and the applicant’s new individual answers were recorded during that application process.”
Romero also had explained that some information on the electronic forms, such as an applicant’s date, place of birth and address, are automatically brought over into the application from prior information contained in DHSMV’s system. She recalled changing Tony’s address after verifying that was proper with a supervisor.
Inspector Riddick later showed Romero a printout of the list of questions she asked, including the one about prior license revocations or suspensions, on what’s called the “Statement of Applicant Concerning License or ID Card.”
“Do you recall filling this out or bringing it over?” asked Riddick.
“I had to fill those out.”
“With answers given to you by him?”
“If he had told you that he had a previously suspended license in the State of Pennsylvania would you have filled out this out-of-state license information section?” Riddick said, referring to a part of the form where an examiner can fill in information about an out-of-state suspension.
“If he said yes when I asked him has your driver’s license has ever been revoked, suspended or denied in any state. (But) he said ‘no,’ then I press no. If he said yes, it would give me the option. I would ask him which state and then…he would tell me and I could just put the state of Pennsylvania.”
Tony answered “no,” according to the form.
‘UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY’
A few moments later, Romero reiterated her procedure.
“Do you remember when you renewed Sheriff Tony’s license on this date having to ask him about a suspended Pennsylvania driver’s license?” said Riddick.
“I asked the question. I remember. I know I always ask the question about that. And if he said no, he said (garbled)…”
“But if he had said yes?”
“Then I would have put yes,” Romero said.
“You would have put yes, and put all that in.”
“So therefor he told you no?”
Finally, at the end of the process, Tony signed this statement, “Under penalty of perjury, I swear or affirm that the information given by me in this application is true and correct.”
Yet prosecutor Kunasek’s memo closing the case does not acknowledge Romero’s testimony about that, including her statement that she read those words about perjury to him before he signed.
“We have to read it out loud to them,” she told Riddick. “And it also shows up on the signature pad as well…And he has to read that on the signature pad, and accept it [by checking a box], and then sign his name. And that signature that he puts is the one that appears on his driver’s license.”
No name / April 26, 2022 7:14 am
Let the man go, y’all been trying to get him out of office for the longest in bs nonsense.
Jerry Fuller / April 26, 2022 7:41 am
Greg Tony will never be held accountable because Ron DeSantis won’t let that happen. It’s called a double standard. Greg Tony is taking full advantage of his opportunity that he clearly wasn’t qualified for. Unfortunately Greg Tony couldn’t do that with humility and honesty. The general public doesn’t know what a vindictive ego maniac he is and how much trouble he has with telling the truth. When Greg Tony makes public comments about dishonest Police Officers it’s absurd, he has a PhD in not telling the truth under oath.
Gary Karp / April 26, 2022 7:46 am
Clearly this five star clown shouldn’t be wearing a badge or a gun!
Joyce / April 26, 2022 9:06 am
This state us so ridiculously corrupt. Of course he won’t be prosecuted, no official in Florida is held accountable for anything. I am so fed up with this nonsense. Can not wait to scrape Florida off my shoes and be done with it. Thank you tho, Bulldog. You guys do a great job of trying to wake Floridians up.
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Patti Lynn / April 26, 2022 1:09 pm
The Men and Women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office deserve better. How do you follow a leader who: Lies; “swings”; screams at his people; and is not someone that you’d want your children to emulate. Can all of this lack of official action have ANYTHING to do with the governer’s re-election campaign? Would it reflect poorly on him, that he selected someone who is, and was, so unqualified? Someone who used hallucinogenic drugs? Somone who killed his own friend, (in a vindictive rage, it appears)? How is Tony allowed to maintain his position?
Mark / April 27, 2022 12:33 am
Predicting De Santos won’t be re-elected. He only won by 34k votes in Nov 2018.
Therealtruth / April 27, 2022 8:35 am
The residents of Broward can only hope the govenor will do the right thing soon. What can be taking soo long? I was shocked to find out how many times Tony lied according to the detailed FDLE investigation. The govenor should of removed him that very week!! The govenor is neglecting his duty by not removing Tony after that investigative report was finalized.
Jerry Fuller / April 27, 2022 10:12 am
Ron DeSantis, The Ethics Commission,The CJTSC and the 20th Circuit Court will not do their jobs. Why? Because it makes DeSantis look like an incompetent dummy. He appointed Tony The Criminal less than 24hrs after asking FDLE to check his background. Tony The Criminal isn’t to blame for this political corruption, DeSantis is. Everyone else just goes along with it, it’s a joke.
Joe Plumber / April 27, 2022 10:30 am
You have bigger problems in this county and other offices.
this is small when you have empire builders who like the big pensions
Dave / April 27, 2022 10:42 am
Typical Broward corruption nothing new just look out for your property taxes go up again for what you get zero.
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Concerned Citizen 1 / April 28, 2022 3:48 pm
Gregory Tony (Toney) was vetted by FDLE (Keith Riddick). FDLE TAKES ORDERS FROM GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS; THAT IS WHY RIDDICK “IGNORED” THIS MURDERER’S, LSD USER AND PERJURER’S PAST. IS THERE ANYONE ON THS BLOG THAT CAN IDENTIFY ANOTHER SHERIFF IN THIS COUNTRY, THAT COMMITTED A HOMICIDE, IS AN ADMITTED LSD DRUG USER AND PERJURED HIMSELF ON NUMEROUS POLICE APPLICATIONS…???
scott huminski / June 7, 2022 10:34 am
Well Kunasek committed suicide 30 day after his forgery of a court order was detailed in papers filed in the Equality Florida v. DeSantis “Don’t Say Gay” lawsuit.
The Court papers,
DeSantis is covering up the felony courthouse forgery,
The Suicide, this crooked DeSantis prosecutor blows his brains out,
Kevin Bolling / February 5, 2023 11:41 pm
Governor DeSantis please your a presidential candidate very soon. Why would you put honerable public servants and tax payers at risk for a guy who should be on probation after a prison sentence. Lying, drug using cold blooded killers should not live in Florida never mind be in charge of 7-11 never mind in law enforcement