By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
After two FBI agents serving a search warrant were gunned down in Sunrise on Feb. 2, 2021, the nonprofit Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council took quick action to cut a pair of $10,000 checks to help the agents’ surviving spouses.
The council, which costs $5,000 to join plus $750 in annual dues, is a separate entity from the sheriff’s office. Members get to carry BSO ID cards and gold Broward County Sheriff’s Office badges with the title “Advisory Deputy,” but have no actual police powers.
Members can also opt to pay up to $50,000 to join what’s called the “Diamond Chairman’s Circle,” the top elite tier with extra council benefits, including an opportunity to speak at events.
Normally when the council writes checks to support the family of a fallen law enforcement officer or firefighter in Broward, the checks are presented by a member of the council’s board of directors. The sheriff has nothing to do with it. But not this time.
According to the group’s former executive director, Nancy Vaniman, Sheriff Gregory Tony called the council’s chairman, Marvin Andrew “Andy” Mitchell, demanding the checks for the FBI spouses be delivered to him so he could present them – either directly to the spouses, or to the FBI, which was targeting him in a bid-rigging probe.
$10,000 CHECKS TAKE A RIDE TO BSO
Vaniman, the council’s executive director for nearly six years, initially resisted. She explained the council’s process for providing financial support to police or firefighters killed or disabled in the line of duty to both Mitchell and to Broward Undersheriff Nichole Anderson and Col. Oscar Llerena. She told them she was in contact with an FBI liaison in Miami and another official inWashington about getting it done. After her explanation, everyone seemed to be on board with that, Vaniman said.
“Then the next thing is I get calls coming in from Oscar and Andy: ‘Where are the checks?’ I said, ‘We talked about it.’ But that didn’t matter. It was ‘get the checks over there right away.’
“I drove over and (Undersheriff) Nichole (Anderson) and four deputies met me outside” BSO headquarters, said Vaniman. “Nichole said she was giving the checks to the sheriff.”
The checks were given to the spouses of FBI Special Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger later that day, before the funerals. No one from the Sheriff’s Advisory Council attended, which was unusual Vaniman said.
As Vaniman was driving back to her council office, Mitchell called her again.
A ‘LIVID’ SHERIFF
“He said that the sheriff had called him again and that he was still livid. Andy said, ‘He threatened to take away all of our BSO ID cards.’ If you take them away you can’t carry the badge,” Vaniman said. “He also said he was told I wasn’t welcome back in the (BSO) building.”
Mitchell, whose full-time job is CEO of the Fort Lauderdale development firm The Fairwinds Group, also told Vaniman the sheriff had told him he was arranging payment of the council’s money with the special agent in charge of the Miami FBI office, George Piro. “They were friends and had a relationship and he was coordinating with the SAC, Andy said,” according to Vaniman.
Vaniman, a retired career Naval officer who has worked as a fundraising consultant for local nonprofits, was puzzled. Nevertheless, during a 40-minute conversation with Mitchell she offered to “step aside” if he and the board thought it would smooth things.
In March, Mitchell “told me they’d decided to go in a different direction.” Vaniman was out. She says she later heard from a board member that Tony pressured the council to fire her.
“I guess it was because I resisted him,” said Vaniman. “They thought they’d be getting the checks by 11 a.m. and it wasn’t until 4 p.m. It was weird. I thought we were all in agreement, then suddenly we weren’t.”
Florida Bulldog sent a detailed email to Andy Mitchell requesting comment. “We have reviewed your request and have ‘no comments,’” Mitchell replied.
A similar email sent to BSO requesting Sheriff Tony’s comments was received, but there was no reply.
THE SHERIFF’S ADVISORY COUNCIL
Created in 1985, the Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council is a federally approved 501(C)(3) nonprofit corporation supported by donations from its members and others in the community. According to its 2020 form 990 filing with the IRS, it received $740,000 in contributions and ended the year with $995,000 in assets.
While the sheriff’s office is part of the group’s name, its work is not exclusive to the sheriff’s office. In addition to using its resources to provide funding for those lost in the line of duty, the council funds specialized training, technology and equipment and other requests made by any law enforcement agency and fire department in Broward. One example of purchased equipment on the council’s website: $98,726 for lighter, buoyant OPS Core FAST Helmets that “won’t drag an officer down in a water situation.”
Oddly, there is no statement in the advisory council’s recently amended bylaws discussing what kinds of advice the council contemplates providing to the sheriff.
The requirements for membership are few. New members must pay the $5,000 initial fee and $750 annual dues, and also pass a formal BSO background check. BSO must then approve them before they can receive BSO credentials, according to the group’s bylaws.
The council’s board consists of 13 voting members. In recent years, the bylaws were amended to include the sheriff as a non-voting, ex officio member. He has no say about its policies, actions or staff.
The group’s website used to include a membership directory, but that has been removed. Vaniman said there are about 200 members, up from 50 when she was hired in 2015. Company owners who join the Silver Chairman’s Circle ($15,000+), Gold Chairman’s Circle ($25,000+) or Diamond Chairman’s Circle ($50,000+) get various benefits, including having their corporate logo with a link to their website on the council’s home page.
FBI agents Daniel Alfin, 36, and Laura Schwartzenberger, 43, were shot and killed outside Sunrise’s Waterside Terrace apartments while attempting to execute a search warrant in a case involving violent crimes against children.
Alfin left behind his wife and son. Schwartzenberger was survived by her husband and two young sons.
Jerald Fuller / July 14, 2022 8:37 am
Greg Tony can be compared to the little kid who doesn’t get their way and throws a tantrum. Greg Tony doesn’t serve the people of Broward County, in his mind Broward County is there for his benefit. Greg Tony is a classic example of someone who gets in office and abuses the hell out of it. Greg Tony is concerned with one thing, Greg Tony. You think the members on that board would’ve told Greg Tony protocol would be followed and the checks will be delivered as usual. Those badges must be really nice. Of all the qualified people Gov DeSantis could’ve picked to be Sheriff he picks this gem, talk about buyers remorse. Unfortunately the voters of Broward County will re-elect this jerk again and again, he’s winning.
Jerald Fuller / July 14, 2022 10:06 am
What does the media, FDLE, FBI, Ron DeSantis, State Attorneys Office, Ethics Commission, CJTSC and the voters of Broward County have in common? People who will never hold Greg Tony accountable. Greg Tony hit the lottery by being friends with Andrew Pollack. Anyone who thinks he should be removed is obviously a racist, according to him that is.
Russell J. Di Perna / July 14, 2022 12:03 pm
How BSO’s Status Quo, continues the tradition
Lamberti, Israel, Tony
Well, all we keep hearing and reading about is Greg Tony is a criminal, he lied, and he only thinks of himself. Paul Johnson, a great scholar once said, “the study of history is the strongest anecdote to contemporary arrogance.” Is what Greg Tony did any worse than the two previous sheriffs?
Let us look at the last 15 years at BSO. First, you had Al Lamberti, who because of him and his close subordinate affiliations to the notorious Ponzi scheme artist Scott Rothstein, Lamberti lost his reelection bid in 2012 to Scott Israel. However, that closeness was more than just a casual friendship. Lamberti’s Under Sheriff, Tom Wheeler, and Executive Officer Dave Benjamin became close associates to Rothstein. Tom Wheeler was a frequent flyer on Rothstein’s private jet. And Dave Benjamin took a plea deal, serving 5 years in Federal Prison, due to his nefarious activity as a go-to guy for Rothstein. In fact, on June 17th, 2021, retired Special Agent in charge Richard Stout (FBI) who arrested Dave Benjamin, participated in a Podcast. https://shows.acast.com/paperless/episodes/the-prince-of-fing-darkness. Stout, reveals that Benjamin was coordinating with a former US Army Special Forces, turned Mercenary soldier, to conduct a hit (murder) as a favor to Rothstein. Are we to believe Lamberti knew nothing about any of these wicked and criminal activities that are symbolic of organized crime syndicates.
2012, Scott Israel was elected Sheriff. He immediately appointed close friends of his from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. Ironically, the FLPD, as reported in the Broward Palm Beach New Times on 12/30/2015, spends more on its police department than almost any department in the country. The study went on to say, in terms of a return on investment, FLPD ranked third worst in the nation. Can you imagine if Elon Musk appointed as his top executives, people who had a history of failure? Except for his Under Sheriff, every other member only had lower to mid-level management experience at FLPD, which is almost 10 times smaller than BSO. His third in command was a retired Sgt. of the FLPD Motor Unit. He was elevated to 3rd in command. The most notorious was Bob Pusins, who served as the failed grey eminence. He was assigned the important job of the BSO Communications consolidation project. As we all know, one of the most egregious failures of the MSD shooting, was BSO communications. Bob Pusins quietly, and discretely retired shortly after the MSD shooting. Although I don’t know Nancy Vaniman, she is a former employee with FLPD and was hired to the BSO Advisory Council by Bob Pusins. Not to get lost in the above subject matter. Let us not forget, that 14 school children and a total of 17 people were slaughtered at MSD, under Scott Israel’s leadership. Nobody in command was charged, disciplined, or fired, except for Scott Israel, which was more than deserving. And before anyone responds with, “well Tony lied on his application”. Let’s not forget when Scott Israel’s Col. Jack Dale, stood up at the MSD hearings, and said, “we had nothing to get Nikolas Cruz on.” I wonder what former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly (2002-2013) would have said when he was told there was nothing he could do about another terrorist attack, that NYC is the worlds number one target, and will get hit again. Ray Kelly’s policies thwarted 16 lone wolf attacks, that the city knows of. (Securing The City, Christopher Dickey). Jack Dale, stood in front of the entire county and lied to the parents who lost their children on 02/14/2018.
Greg Tony’s Nemesis
Greg Tony has a lot of explaining to do, and there are serious questions about some of his activities. The authorities are investigating, and I’m sure we will get answers sooner than later. Tony’s nemesis is not his past, it’s the BSO culture that is consuming every part of his current public and private life. And that’s because he is surrounded by the same people that were elevated(promoted) by Al Lamberti and Scott Israel. Who are these people? They are careerists, who come to work every day, move in the same direction, hold their own hand, and report to work on Monday for only one specific reason. To make sure their job exists the very next day.
Concerned Citizen 1 / July 14, 2022 12:21 pm
THANK YOU MR. FULLER! FINALLY SOMEONE ELSE (BESIDES ME), THAT REALIZES THAT ANDREW POLLACK IS RESPONSIBLE (ALONG WITH MANY OTHER PARKLAND PARENTS), AS WELL AS, DESANTIS FOR APPOINTING THIS MURDERER, LSD USER AND PERJURER AS BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF! IF HE WERE “WHITE,” HE WOULD’VE BEEN REMOVED YEARS AGO…DID YOU NOT KNOW THAT BEING “RACIST” IS THE NEW NORM IN THIS COUNTRY, SPECIFICALLY BROWARD COUNTY FLORIDA??? THE DEVIL IS A LIAR, THIS MAN WILL GET WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR HIM; ALL IN GOD’S TIME.
Concerned Citizen 1 / July 14, 2022 12:36 pm
AMEN MR. DI PERNA. 17 KILLED (R.I.P.) AND 17 INJURED DURING THAT HORRIFIC SHOOTING AND WHOM DOES ISRAEL AND HIS CRONIES SCAPEGOAT;? THE LOW-HANGING “FRUIT” DEPUTY SRO, THE SAME DEPUTY WHO RECEIVED NO INTEL FROM BSO DISPATCH ADVISING OF AN ACTIVE SHOOTER ON THAT CAMPUS, LET ALONE GUNSHOT VICTIMS OR A SHOOTER INSIDE THE 1200 BUILDING…SEVEN (7) OTHER DEPUTUES HEARD GUNFIRE OUTSIDE, AND NEVER ENTERED THE BUILDING. LET’S NOT FORGET THAT ALL OF THE 911 CALLS WERE GOING TO CORAL SPRINGS POLICE AND NOT BSO; A COMMUNICATIONS FAILURE INDEED…THE FAILURE NO ONE WANTS TO REPORT!
Enough / July 14, 2022 8:49 pm
No 501(c)3 should be getting special privileges of any kind in a public facility without their membership being fully transparent. Guaranteed favoritism.
Secret Service / July 15, 2022 8:35 pm
The members of the Advisory Council are fully vetted and are wonderful people supporting first responders
A practiced eye / July 18, 2022 1:02 pm
This special counsel goes back decades for people that wanted to be associated with the sheriff’s in office. BSO is a capstone of the corruption in this town that only highlights the consequences of northern migration of bloc politics to south FLorida. Yes, Tony is an embarrassment to the people he represents. But he has a long line of predecessors that were AS bad if not worse than what we have now. The larger problem is the entire agency lost respect after the public shootings that highlighted institutional incompetence led to the deaths of kids attending high school. FDLE in Tallahassee is in no way capable of managing this for the governor beyond carrying out orders issued in the parlors of state politics.