By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
Believe it or not, but there’s been another delay in the administrative trial of Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony on charges that he has repeatedly lied under oath throughout his career as a police officer.
Canceled is the previously scheduled date of Nov. 1-2. The new date for that final hearing is now pushed into next year: Feb. 6-7.
Why the delay? Natalie Bielby, the assistant general counsel at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who will prosecute Tony, told Administrative Law Judge Robert Kilbride it was needed because of “staffing issues.” She wrote that Tony “has no objection to a continuance.”
Two summers ago, Florida’s police standards and training commission and Florida’s Commission on Ethics separately found probable cause to believe that Tony is a habitual perjurer. The ethics commission’s case included a finding that he provided false information about himself to Gov. Ron DeSantis before the governor appointed him sheriff in January 2019, most notably concealing his arrest for the execution-style slaying of a young man in Philadelphia when Tony was 14 years old.
There’s been a curious lack of urgency out of Tallahassee ever since.
GOVERNOR DOES NOTHING
DeSantis, currently on the hustings for the Republican presidential nomination, has shown little interest in the matter. He’s taken no action against Democrat Tony even though he’s eagerly removed other elected Democrats from office who offended him.
Likewise, there were lengthy delays before the two commissions even filed their cases against Tony after he served notice that he disputed their findings and would appeal to the Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH). Nearly seven months passed before the ethics commission filed its case. The Florida Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission took more than a year to file at DOAH.
There were more months dithering at DOAH before Administrative Law Judge June McKinney, assigned to hear the ethics commission’s case, decided last month to place that case in abeyance and allow the police standards commission’s case to go first. That’s the case now set to be heard in February before Judge Kilbride. If Tony loses, his license to be a police officer could be revoked. He would nevertheless remain Broward’s elected sheriff.
Meanwhile, as Tony runs for re-election next year questions about his political allegiances are beginning to arise. In 2020, Tony won the Democratic primary and subsequent general election with the considerable financial backing of left-wing Fort Lauderdale billionaire S. Donald Sussman, who Broward election records show pumped a whopping $900,000 into Tony’s Political Action Committee Broward First. By comparison, Tony’s campaign, hindered by limits on contributions that don’t apply to PACs, raised about $190,000.
But Sussman’s continued support is open to question – especially since Broward Republican heavyweights, allies of DeSantis, came out in a big show of support for Tony by hosting a fundraiser for Broward First at the luxurious Las Olas Isles home of wealthy orthopedic surgeon and healthcare entrepreneur Dr. Wael Barsoum and his wife, Michelle.
REPUBLICANS SUPPORT BROWARD SHERIFF TONY
The fundraiser’s marquee names included former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, chairman of the Gunster law firm, and Broward Health President and CEO Shane Strum, DeSantis’s former chief of staff. How much was raised won’t be known until next month when Tony’s PAC files its October report with the Broward supervisor of elections.
Sussman’s office told Florida Bulldog that Sussman was out of the country and could not be reached for comment. Election records show Sussman has not made any recent contributions to Tony’s PAC.
To date, three men, all Democrats, have filed to run against Broward Sheriff Tony in next August’s primary election. They are former BSO Col. Al Pollock, ex-Pembroke Park Police Chief David Howard and Steven Andrew Geller, a former Plantation police officer and FDLE agent.
Yet even at this early stage of Tony’s re-election bid, one thing is clear: He’s determined to again pull in contributions at an unprecedented rate for a local election.
In September alone, Broward First reported raising more than $395,000. The largest donors include:
- Maurice “Mo” Vaughn, former Boston Red Sox star first baseman who resides in Boca Raton, $50,000.
- David MacNeil, retired Founder and CEO of WeatherTech and a director of the pay-to-play Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council (BSAC), $50,000.
- Lewis Stahl, vice chairman of BSAC who served two years in prison for evading millions of dollars in personal income taxes on $21 million he siphoned from his Boca Raton medical tech company NextGen Management LLC, now known as DXWeb Management LLC., $25,000. Stahl kicked in another $25,000 in February.
- Hillsboro 56 LLC, owned by Randal Perkins, owner of Deerfield Beach government disaster contractor Ashbritt, $25,000.
- ANF Group, the Davie construction and development company, which built the sheriff’s new training center. ANF is led by president Al Fernandez, $25,000.
- Joe McDonnell, Weston, entrepreneur and owner For Life Products manufactures, markets and distributes Rejuvenate brands of cleaning products, $25,000.
Since the start of the year, Broward First has raked in $515,000 and spent less than $35,000.
Meanwhile, Tony’s official campaign account has collected $69,000 from donors, many of whom are ranking deputies who work for him. He has yet to spend a penny of that money, records say.