By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony is fighting a recommendation that he be stripped of his state license to be a police officer for multiple counts of lying under oath, according to documentation obtained by Florida Bulldog.
The case now goes to an administrative law judge in Tallahassee for a “formal hearing” where Tony will dispute the “allegations of fact” contained in a complaint filed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The case has not yet been filed at the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH).
In June, a three-person panel of the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission found “probable cause” to believe the allegations against the sheriff were true and that Tony’s police license should be yanked.
While revocation is an embarrassing blow that would mean Tony could no longer be a cop, he would remain Broward’s elected sheriff. Tony, who was certified in 2005, was a policeman in Coral Springs where he rose to the rank of sergeant.
Tony invoked his right to an administrative hearing on an “Election of Rights” form that is stamped as received by the Criminal Justice Standards Commission in early July. It is signed by both Tony and his lawyer, Stephen G. Webster of Tallahassee. Webster also represents the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
Webster did not respond to a Florida Bulldog emailed request for comment.
DESANTIS SAYS ZIP
Tony refused to be interviewed by FDLE agents while they conducted a wide-ranging investigation of him that began six days after Florida Bulldog reported exclusively on May 2, 2020 that as a 14-year-old in Philadelphia in 1993 Tony shot and killed a young man. Tony was charged with murder, but was acquitted in juvenile court. All court records in the case are sealed and Tony’s version of what happened, that he killed in self-defense, has been disputed by the dead man’s family.
Tony never disclosed that killing to Gov. Ron DeSantis before DeSantis appointed him as sheriff in January 2019 to replace Scott Israel, who gained notoriety in the fallout from the Parkland school killings.
To date, DeSantis has not publicly addressed the substance of the FDLE’s findings or the panel’s determination of “probable cause” against Tony, which were made public in January.
Tony’s lack of disclosure about his arrest for murder, his statements under oath that he did not have his case sealed and certain other instances of alleged lies were dropped as either “lacking sufficient evidence” or “barred by the statute of limitations.”
Reviewing prosecutors in Fort Myers, where the case was transferred after Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor asked DeSantis to remove him, found a single “potentially viable” criminal charge against Tony – one that the FDLE recommended should lead to a felony charge for “false affidavit perjury.”
EIGHT COUNTS OF ‘UNLAWFUL ACTS’
That involved Tony’s false statement on an application for a replacement driver’s license in February 2019 when he answered “no” when asked whether his driving privileges had every been suspended in any other state. Pennsylvania had suspended Tony’s driving privileges several times in the 1990s. Nevertheless, prosecutors declined to charge Tony with a crime.
But that allegation is now one of eight counts of “Unlawful Acts in Relation to Driver License” brought against the sheriff. Here is the way the commission’s probable cause determination summed things up:
“Between March 15, 2002 and February 1, 2019, Tony submitted 11 applications to Florida Driver’s Licenses and was issued a replacement license each time. On eight of the applications, he answered ‘no’ to the question asking if his driving privilege has ever been revoked, suspended or denied in any other state. Investigators obtained and reviewed Tony’s Pennsylvania driver record. Tony’s license was suspended on August 3, 1993 for failure to appear for trial or court appearance and January 23, 1998 for five separate cases of failure to appear for trial or court appearance.”
The case now falls to an administrative judge to weigh and decide. The judge’s decision, however long it takes, will then be sent to the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission for its consideration. The commission can either accept or reject the judge’s finding before issuing its final decision.