CONNECT WITH:

BSO Sgt cleared of wrongdoing sues Sheriff Tony, says Broward prosecutor conspired with Tony to convict him and win elections

LaCerra
LaCerra
Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, left, and BSO Sgt. Gregory LaCerra

By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org

A Broward Sheriff’s sergeant cleared of battery and falsifying records in a controversial 2019 takedown and arrest of a black teenager amid a mob outside a Tamarac McDonalds has sued Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony and two members of his command staff.

Sgt. Gregory LaCerra alleges that Tony, Col. John Hale and Lt. Vincent Coldwell conspired to frame him. Coldwell led BSO’s internal affairs investigation of LaCerra.

Tony’s alleged motive? To win an election. The motive for Hale and Coldwell, each described in the complaint as a “glorified, self-proclaimed crony of Tony:” to advance their careers.

LaCerra
BSO Colonel John Hale

“Coldwell, Hale, and Tony, individually, reached an understanding that in order to protect the political career of Tony, and in an effort to ensure his election, denied plaintiff of his Fourth Amendment constitutional rights,” the complaint says. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The 25-page suit filed Thursday also accuses “officials of the Broward County State Attorney’s Office” of conspiring with the sheriff, Hale and Coldwell “to convict plaintiff of a crime they knew he did not commit.’’ Despite that allegation of criminality, no state prosecutor was named as a defendant in the civil suit nor have any prosecutors been charged with a crime.

BROWARD PROSECUTOR IMPLICATED

The complaint zeroes in on one Broward prosecutor without naming him. He is identified both as the “assistant state attorney assigned to the [LaCerra] case” and an active 2020 candidate for Broward State Attorney who ran a campaign television ad touting his stance against “bad cops.

LaCerra
Justin McCormack

The only prosecutor to fit that description is Assistant State Attorney Justin McCormack, who lost to Broward State Attorney Harold Pryor in 2020. McCormack departed the state attorney’s office in January and today works as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

McCormack could not be reached for comment. Sarah Schall, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Tuesday morning, “We decline the opportunity to comment.”

“Defendants knew, including by testimony from their own use of force expert, that these assertions were unfounded, untrue, and unsupported by any facts to support further action,” the complaint says. “Nevertheless, defendants chose to cave to the court of public opinion, while Tony was running for election, and vilify plaintiff professionally and personally, crushing his professional and personal reputation and holding both plaintiff and his entire family up to public ridicule and humiliation, as well as placing their lives in danger.”

To make it happen, the complaint alleges, the defendants trumped up “false and fabricated” evidence against LaCerra.

“There was a complete and total absence of probable cause for the commencement of criminal proceedings against the plaintiff,” the complaint says.

Representing LaCerra are Fort Lauderdale attorney Tonja Haddad Coleman and Hollywood lawyer David Frankel.

THE TAKEDOWN AND ARREST

On the afternoon of April 18, 2019, LaCerra, a 24-year BSO veteran who is also vice president of Local 6020 of the International Union of Police Associations, and BSO Detective Christopher Krickovich responded to the parking lot of Tamarac Town Square Plaza, 8200 N. Pine Island Road, following a report of a large group of students fighting and damaging cars. The location was well known to the police, who had gone there more than 150 times in less than two years in response to complaints, according to the complaint.

LaCerra and Krickovich waded into a crowd of about 100, mostly students. As they moved in the crowd converged on them. Delucca Rolle, then 15, a student at J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, “assaulted” LaCerra, who then “deployed his pepper spray,” according to the complaint. Video showed LaCerra pepper-sprayed Rolle in the face before knocking him to the ground.

A screenshot of a widely seen video of the 2019 takedown and arrest of Delucca Rolle

Krickovich used “ground control techniques and distraction strikes as he was taught in BSO training” to control Rolle’s attempts to resist being handcuffed,” the complaint says. Video taken by a bystander shows Rolle’s head making contact with the pavement, but he wasn’t injured. Still, the complaint noted, the video became something of a sensation, “the subject of nationwide reports in the media, posts on social media, and fodder for the ‘talking heads’ due to the political climate.”

The next day, BSO’s lead trainer in defensive tactics, use of force and de-escalation tactics, Sgt. Melvin Murphy, met with Tony and others. “Sgt. Murphy walked everyone through the video of what transpired, and he explained his opinion as to how LaCerra and Krickovich’s use of force was completely consistent with the Sheriff’s Policy Manual and the training that BSO provides its deputies. No one present indicated a contrary opinion,” the complaint says.

On April 27, “someone posted the deputies’ home addresses on social media, and the deputies and their families had to be placed under police security/surveillance for weeks; over 100 threats against the deputies were investigated.”

Meanwhile, internal accolades for LaCerra poured in. “Hang in there my friend! There’s a lot of us on your side. Please let me know if I can do anything for you as you are well respected by your peers,” BSO Col. David Holmes texted him on May 21.

ATTORNEY CRUMP’S PRESS CONFERENCE

That changed on June 25, 2019 when nationally known civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump held a press conference and said that if LaCerra and Krickovich weren’t charged by the Fourth of July “he would be back to hold a rally,” the complaint says.

Attorney Benjamin Crump with Delucca Rolle. Photo: WPLG-Channel 10

On July 3, the Broward State Attorney’s Office charged them both with battery and conspiracy to falsify records. They were suspended without pay.

The charges were the result of a conspiracy by Tony, Hale and Coldwell, the complaint says. “Knowing that Tony’s re-election campaign could ill-afford any negative publicity, [they] along with other unidentified Tony cronies at BSO, in a conspired effort to provide Tony with political cover, met and agreed that despite plaintiff having done nothing wrong,” they would violate LaCerra’s constitutional rights by helping to prosecute him.

In a move that the complaint says was “unprecedented,” Internal Affairs (IA) continued investigating LaCerra despite the ongoing criminal case.

Sgt. Coldwell later sent the IA case to BSO’s Professional Standards Committee for review without taking a statement from Rolle or giving LaCerra a Garrity warning, the complaint says. (A Garrity warning is given to police who are suspected of misconduct. It allows management to question them and requires them to answer while ensuring they are aware of their rights and that their statement is not coerced.)

On Sept. 13, 2019, BSO’s Professional Standards Committee, made up of both top-level  law-enforcement officers and members of the public, recommended exoneration on all counts but one: that LaCerra had violated BSO rules by failing to immediately activate his body worn camera when he arrived on scene.

LACERRA SUSPENDED AGAIN

By the end of September, LaCerra was put back on restricted duty. But the same day, the complaint says, he received an email telling him that “the BSO executive command, largely influenced by Hale and Tony, chose to ignore LaCerra’s use of force exoneration, changed the finding to sustained, and recommended that LaCerra be given a three-day suspension without pay.”

At the same time, Krickovich was notified that his use of force exoneration was also being changed to sustained, with a recommendation that he be fired.

“During this time, Sheriff Tony was running his election campaign,” the complaint says. So was prosecutor McCormack.

Krickovich appealed his dismissal. In subsequent proceedings, Col. Hale testified that Sheriff Tony was upset that the state attorney’s office had “beat him to the punch” in filing charges. And for that reason, Tony “decided to upend decades of prior practice and deprive Detective Krickovich of the genuine opportunity to participate in the process that is afforded” cops under the Florida Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.

In June 2020, Tony released a campaign video ad that included footage at issue in the pending criminal cases against LaCerra and Krickovich. The video’s title: “Accountable: I fired the bad cops.” McCormack aired a similar ad campaign, the complaint says.

THE FINAL BLOW

On Oct. 16, 2020, a judge dismissed LaCerra’s two criminal battery charges. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed that ruling in March 2022. Three months later, the prosecution dismissed the falsification of records and conspiracy to falsify records charges against both deputies.

The final blow to the notion that LaCerra was involved in wrongdoing came in December 2022 when the Administrative Appeals Board overturned Tony’s three-day suspension of LaCerra, discipline which Hale had confirmed, the complaint says. The board entered a finding of “not sustained” on the use of force violation

The complaint accuses Sheriff Tony, Hale and Coldwell of malicious prosecution, civil conspiracy, the intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation per se.

Krickovich had similar claims against the sheriff. In a footnote, LaCerra’s complaint says that Krickovich previously settled those claims.

Krickovich did not file suit against the sheriff. His claims appear to have been settled via a grievance process.

Today, both LaCerra and Krickovich are back at work at the sheriff’s office, working under the supervision of men they have sued.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • Granted Police Officers work under stressful situations especially during crowd control situations like the one Sgt. Gregory LaCerra was involved in. I had several members of my family in law enforcement and heard plenty of stories over the years. That being said I also had an Uncle Joe who was “old school” and bragged of beating suspects and bring his billy club up under their crotch to “make them dance like a puppet.” My other Uncle Donnie was new school law enforcement beginning his career in Korea as a Marine and exercised discipline as an officer respecting perps to a significant degree, I was always surprised. After walking a beat, being a motorcycle cop, working undercover, and finally becoming a detective, Donnie put 45 years into law enforcement.
    I mentioned before one of his greatest challenges was dealing with bad cops who used excessive force, planted evidence, or forced false confessions during the nasty era of law enforcement during the 60s and 70s under a crooked police chief Breier in Milwaukee. (Recall the framing of officer “”Bambi” Bembenek”). So in the case of Sgt. Gregory LaCerra the situation is that a law enforcement officer is subject to scrutiny in the course of public concern over police brutality. LaCerra may feel persecuted, but that is the heat of being an officer. He should feel vindicated but not vindictive toward the department. Suing the department only costs taxpayers more money and increases public distrust. It would be interesting to know if LaCerra had any other remarks in his file regarding complaints.

  • Carl, thank you for educating us about “old uncle Donnie” and “old uncle Joe” but your tales of yesteryear have nothing to do with this suit. I suggest you read a little more closely, LaCerra wasn’t just under scrutiny, he was prosecuted unjustly to serve a political end, after the agency’s own use of force expert stated that and Krickovich were within use of force guidelines.

  • This article is very one sided. It’s not even journalism. It reads as a PR release for the defendants. In fact, I think its a great example of the political strenght of the police union in Broward, but not of the legitimacy of the case against the officers.

  • Greg Tony referring to LaCerra and Krickovich as bad cops is comical. He’s a pathological liar and political animal. With his lies and criminal history he’s not qualified to walk dogs. FDLE should have arrested him but they get their marching orders from Gov Dummy. The at will employees at BSO will laugh at his dumb jokes, tell him how smart he is and collect their salaries. Broward County can thank Ron The Dummy DeSantis for giving us this piece of garbage. I hope Sgt LaCerra is successful against BSO.

  • Wow! Congrats! What a win!!!!!! Finally that POS “Hale” is disclosed! Maybe i need to resubmit my timeline for Sgt. Chris Reyka …

  • So what happened to the African American Deputies who were also done wrong during this “Sheriff” campaign time they deserve justice as well.

  • What a political and legal SHIT HOLE Broward County has become!!! (Emphasis added). Greedy, dishonest politicians, crooked cops and prejudiced, corrupt, self-serving judges! It’s like something out of a fucking movie script! We, the citizens of Broward County, need to VOTE these ASSHOLES out of office! I’m ASHAMED to call myself a Republican these days! What ever happened to the “Blue Wall of Silence?” You KNOW law enforcement is out of control when cops start turning on each other! This NEVER used to happen! Ron DeSantis needs to GO – Sheriff Tony needs to GO – Chief Judge Jack Tuter needs to GO! Talk about betraying the public trust! Broward is the most CORRUPT County in Florida!!!

  • This is a FAKE news story!!!
    Look at the picture!!!!
    Sheriff Toney wears FIVE stars on his collar, not four!!
    Fake news!!!!!

    LOL

  • Dear Mr Crespo,

    Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out of the county.

  • Ron DeSantis finds himself deceived by Greg Tony, also known as Greg Toney, who embodies everything the governor stands against. Tony’s divisive tactics have blinded DeSantis, allowing him to be played for a fool. Under Tony’s leadership, a Social Justice Task Force has been established, ostensibly to promote diversity and equity, yet in reality, it predominantly hires and promotes minorities, particularly blacks. Moreover, Tony dismisses white BSO Deputies with impunity, leveraging their dismissals for political gain.

    DeSantis championed House Bill 7/Senate Bill 2524, emphasizing merit-based selection criteria for candidates, a law aimed at preventing discrimination in Florida. However, Tony’s actions blatantly contravene this legislation, as his choices are overtly rooted in discrimination, disregarding merit, work performance, and experience. Reports suggest Tony openly scoffs at DeSantis behind closed doors, fostering an environment where advancement for non-black individuals within BSO becomes an uphill battle.

    The Florida Constitution empowers the governor to remove elected officials under certain circumstances. Section 112.51(1) of the Florida Statutes allows suspension for malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, among other reasons. Similarly, Section 112.51(2) permits suspension upon indictment or information for a state felony or misdemeanor. Tony’s pattern of lying and misrepresentation aligns with the criteria for malfeasance, warranting swift action from the governor once the commission’s ruling confirms Tony’s dishonesty throughout his career.

    Despite Tony’s duplicity, some argue that his election reflects the will of Broward County residents. However, Republican constituents in Broward vehemently oppose him, viewing Tony’s affiliation with the Republican Party as a facade. DeSantis, mistakenly believing Tony to be a genuine Republican, is unaware of Tony’s disdainful attitude towards him, perceiving the governor as a cuckold. Those who support DeSantis share the sentiment, recognizing Tony’s corrupt practices and advocating for his removal from office.

    Tony thrives on deceit, gaining credibility with each lie unchallenged. Failure of the commission to rule against him would establish a dangerous precedent, permitting dishonesty with impunity, jeopardizing the integrity of law enforcement certification. Despite preaching accountability, Tony’s life is characterized by deception, from drug use to false statements on applications and licenses. His sense of entitlement knows no bounds, granting him privileges denied to others, particularly those who are white.

    To all the hardworking black employees and LEOs, it is a shame that you are being misrepresented by this con man who only works to promote himself and his own ego. Under Tony’s leadership, the achievements and contributions of dedicated black individuals are overshadowed by his self-serving agenda and decisiveness.

    In conclusion, Governor DeSantis is implored to act decisively and swiftly in removing Tony from office. Broward County deserves leadership rooted in integrity, not deception. The well-being of our children and citizens hinges on the presence of honorable role models, not deceitful con artists.

  • My name is Raymond Hicks, I am a former highly decorated Broward sheriff deputy receiving the Gold Cross Award, Silver Cross Award and named two-time deputy of the month 1997&1999. I spoke out against police brutality, corruption, planting drugs on black offenders and beating young black men to the ground which landed me at the federal prison faced with Natural life imprisonment without parole. My YouTube videos hit 6.8 M and I.5 M, 838,225 within a few months. I don’t understand why officers were not charged with aggravated kidnapping, False Arrests imprisonment, Malious Prosecution, Wrongful Incarceration, Supervision Retention and Destruction of Evidence, and several charges of official misconduct, one charge of official oppression in my case. How much longer will abuse of power by individuals in law enforcement be allowed to perpetuate? When will enough be enough? My question is Who police the Police? There need to be a police reform and accountability. We need changes to happen in how police officers are generally viewed due to the malice of a few Deputy Sheriff’s or police officers. The mentality and inhumane treatment towards anyone, civilian, or officer must be addressed and eliminated. On June 15th 2000, 60 BSO Deputies stormed my home at gunpoint and charged me with Trafficking 350 kilograms of cocaine that was equivalent to 750 million dollars. These are states I never visited before. The administration nor internal affairs never called me in for a Garrity Statement or questioning to determine if the allegations were true. They had no drugs no money nor any mention of drugs and money it was all fabricated to silence my request for justice. It’s 21 years now and I have never been afforded the opportunity to speak publicly about this despicable and horrible tragedy my wife and kids experience. I took my case to trial before a 12 panel jury which consists of 11 whites and I black alternant because I was 100% innocent. During the course of the trial, the judge and jury found out that I was working and not traveling to these states. The jury deliberated and came back with a Not Guilty Verdict within 30 minutes. I truly thank God for Ms. Jane Turner former FBI, Supervisor and Swat member, Mike Zummer former FBI Agent and Mr Bobby Ledogar former Deputy Marshals who stated that I’m not a criminal but a Hero. Ms. Turner stated Raymond if you were moving 350 kilograms of cocaine that was equivalent to 750 million dollars you wouldn’t have been arrested by the Broward Sheriff’s Office but DEA, FBI, ATF and the Marshals.

    https://youtube.com/shorts/_z1aJSUlFlE?feature=share

    https://youtu.be/lGDU0stOkjc

    https://youtu.be/dYxEHOb56sg

    https://youtu.be/IFxkE75-Ep8

  • Keith Neely from Internal Affairs Division stated that he was going to give me my job back within two weeks. However, he lied. I was arrested two more times by my former department at Gun Point as they waited for the right opportunity to take my life. I took these cases before the court, and within 10 minutes, I was acquitted by the judge.The harassment continued I was arrested a third time at gunpoint for child abuse. The prosecutor conducted a thorough investigation and threw the case out for NO. PROS. 

  • Here we go. Finishing up 2 months since Toney (Lynx) the blue panty wearing, ball grabbing, homocidal liar last testa-lied at the FDLE case. They said that the judge would have an answer in 30 days. We’re going on the third month. Clearly, Desantis is ball-deep in protecting this animal, as he just finished suspending a commissioner in Orlando, but again, nothing but crickets when it comes to doing the same to Lynx. Not sure who the biggest, most worthless bag of garbage is- Lynx or Desantis. Maybe one of you can opine. Even the Feds are scared to death of Lynx as their case never surfaced even after the last supervisor of the mIami office indicated that they had enough for an arrest. When he left, I had hope the new supervisor had the stones to squeeze the puss out of the boil known as Toney. Same old same old.

  • Couldn’t have said it better myself “Edward Crespo!” BEYOND CORRUPTION INDEED. DeSantis is nothing more than a POLITICAL skank, who does NOT have the balls to remove the MURDERER, PERJURER, and LSD USER, because HE not only handed Toney the Sheriff’s position, but more so, he sided with Andrew Pollack, (Parkland parent who lost his daughter Meadow R.I.P.), and picked his “gym buddy” as sheriff! The Parkland families stood with DeSantis as Andrew Polkack led the pack at the podium, and announced that PIECE-OF-SHIT-GARBAGE as corrupt Broward County’s new sheriff…Mr. “Accountability” thinks he can continue to destroy another person’s reputation with his “5-Stars” and pounding his chest. Hopefully this will be the election year that SATAN gets what he deserves!!! BTW Neil Glassman, well said directed back to “Carl Buehler!”

  • Well, well, well. The same thing happened the Ritered Deputy Scot Peterson.
    The active criminal tony/toney lied and conspired with the same FDLE Agent ridick and the same BASA Killoran. The facts are the facts, in the Peterson case he is entitled to legal fees around 100,000.00 Because the same group of untrustworthy public servants, being bullied by this ego, self-serving bully.
    If there is a INVESTAGATIVE REPORTED, out there looking to win a award for truth. This case is very easy, just ask the investagors who produced a report stating that the MSD SHOOTING was not negligent on ANY LEO response. Intimidation and piss poor integrity is why a hard working honerable public servant was trashed in the public by a bully sheriff who should have never been a dog catch (no offense to dog catchers). Because if his tug like killing of an unarmed man, and his drug use.
    I’m a betting kind of guy, he would fail spot drug test.
    Sgt. Lacerre the public thanks you for your service and standing up to fight for what right. May God bless the good public servants and protect them until tony/toney is voted out, because the system is very unbalanced.

  • Mr. Hicks – How are you in prison if the guilty came back with a not guilty verdict? If I read that wrong and you were found not guilty, why did you not file a federal civil rights/malicious prosecution/whistleblower lawsuit?

  • I’ve worked with Sgt. LaCerre and he is a dirty, two faced hypocrite. He plays the politics and would trample on anyone or Deputy the fact that he sues the Sheriff for politics is hilarious. Hopefully he gets his karma sooner than later.

leave a comment