By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
A panel of the Florida commission that oversees police to make sure they are competent and ethical will meet on Tuesday to decide whether there is probable cause to revoke Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony’s law enforcement certification.
If probable cause is found, the full Florida Criminal Justice Standards & Training Commission (CJS&T) would consider Tony’s case in August. If Tony’s certification is yanked, he could no longer be a police officer anywhere in the state, which among other things means he would have no power to make an arrest.
Tony, however would remain as Broward’s sheriff because elected sheriffs are constitutional officers and are not required to be certified police officers. For example, former Broward Sheriff Ken Jenne was a civilian, not a sworn police officer.
Still, if Tony is decertified it would be politically embarrassing for Gov. Ron DeSantis, who appointed Tony, a former Coral Springs police sergeant, in January 2019 to replace Sheriff Scott Israel in the wake of the Parkland school massacre.
Today, June 16, the CJS&T panel released its agenda for “probable cause determination” hearings to be held next week at Valencia College’s Criminal Justice Institute in Orlando. Tony’s name is on a list of 76 police and Department of Corrections officials whose cases of “moral character” are to be considered.
No details were released, but the date of Tony’s alleged offenses are described as “on or between 3-15-2002 & 2-1-2019.”
Florida Bulldog has learned that the CJS&T action is the result of a complaint filed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Inspector Keith Riddick. Riddick investigated Tony for a variety of suspected crimes rooted in lies the sheriff has told over the years. In July 2021, Riddick wrote a 20-page report recommending that Tony by prosecuted for, among other things, felony perjury for making a false statement when applying for a replacement Florida driver’s license.
The two-year FDLE probe found that 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.
Tony likewise did not respond to a request for comment by Florida Bulldog.
Cross-state prosecutors who considered the case after Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor bowed out, concluded that criminal charges were not possible. Instead, they “suggested” FDLE submit the case to the often-ineffective Florida ethics commission. To date, the commission appears to have done nothing.
The Fort Myers-based prosecutors omitted and misrepresented key facts when assessing the FDLE report and its recommendations. The facts were contained in the tape-recoded oral statement by the state driver’s license examiner who took Tony’s application on Feb. 1, 2019 – just 22 days after he became sheriff. Essentially, in explaining the decision not to charge Tony in a close-out memo, the prosecutors ignored key statements in the examiner’s sworn testimony that buttressed the FDLE’s recommendation that Tony be prosecuted.
Following the decision not to charge Tony, Gov. DeSantis said he’d review the FDLE’s findings. Four months later, he’s said nothing more about it.
COMMISSION EXPECTED TO DO BROAD LOOK
The CJS&T examination is expected to look at the totality of the FDLE findings, which included numerous alleged lies by Tony that were made too long ago to prosecute, but still go to his fitness to serve.
The dates of the alleged offenses in March 2002 and February 2019 coincide with dates that FDLE determined Tony twice “falsely answered ‘no’ to the question ‘Has your driving privilege ever been revoked, suspended, or denied in any state?'” In fact, his Pennsylvania driver’s icense was suspended multiple times.
Those dates would appear to exclude Tony from further scrutiny for a controversial Florida Department of Law Enforcement affidavit he signed in early January 2020 declaring he’d never had a criminal records sealed or expunged. At the time he signed it, Tony had yet to disclose – as he did in a May 2020 interview by email with Florida Bulldog – that he’d shot and killed Hector “Chino” Rodriguez on a sidewalk on May 4, 1993. Tony claimed self defense.
The affidavit with Tony’s signature states that any “intentional omission” or “false execution…shall constitute a misdemeanor of the second degree and disqualify the officer for employment as an officer.”
Philadelphia court and prosecutors’ files on Tony’s case can’t be found, and while the FDLE report states that officials there believe the records were expunged, why and at whose request they were expunged is unknown.