CONNECT WITH:

Bay Harbor Islands police chief promoted to top spot despite ‘double-dipping’ findings by Miami-Dade police

bay harbor islands
Bay Harbor Islands

By Francisco Alvarado, Floridabulldog.org

A recent whistleblower’s lawsuit lays bare how Bay Harbor Islands Police Chief Lindsley Noel ascended to the top spot despite getting caught “double-dipping,” earning tens of thousands of dollars in off-duty pay when he was also on-duty for the town’s cop force.

In promoting Noel, who began his police career in Bay Harbor Islands in 2006, town officials relied on a private investigator’s analysis downplaying the findings of a Miami-Dade County Police administrative investigation.

While state prosecutors declined to charge him with a crime, Miami-Dade detectives documented more than four dozen instances of double-dipping by Noel between 2017 and 2019, as well as violations of Bay Harbor Islands Police policies, including an ethics and integrity code, according to court and town records, including investigative reports, obtained by Florida Bulldog.

Noel’s transgressions have not been previously reported, and only came to light because of Bay Harbor Island Police Sgt. Michael LaMantia, who is suing the town under the Florida Whistleblower Act. According to LaMantia’s lawsuit, filed in March in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, town officials unfairly terminated the sergeant in 2022 as retaliation for working the internal affairs investigation into Noel’s off-duty gigs while he was on-duty.

bay harbor islands
Bay Harbor Islands Police Chief Lindsley Noel

A separate internal affairs probe in 2022 sustained allegations that LaMantia harassed and made misogynistic and racist remarks to subordinates, but the sergeant refuted the complaints as a bogus attempt to undermine his authority as a shift leader.  

LaMantia’s punishment was reduced to a one-year suspension without pay by an arbitrator last year. He completed it last year and is back at work today.

William Amlong, LaMantia’s attorney, declined to comment. Noel, a 19-year Bay Harbor Islands police veteran, did not respond to three Florida Bulldog phone messages and two emails seeking comment. Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Joshua Fuller, Vice Mayor Isaac Salver and council members Stephanie Bruder, Molly Diallo, Teri D’Amico, Eric Rappaport and Robert Yaffe also did not respond to requests for comment.

THE NOEL INVESTIGATION

Between 2017 and 2019, Noel earned at least $36,750 working off-duty details when town police schedules, calendars and payroll records showed he was also paid for being on duty for the police department during the same hours, a 93-page Miami-Dade Police investigative report shows. At the time, then-Capt. Noel earned $143,932 annually and his duties included handing out off-duty assignments to rank-and-file officers.

In February 2020, then-Bay Harbor Islands Lt. Curtis Johnson and LaMantia initially started the probe after receiving an anonymous tip about Noel’s Friday shifts, the investigative report states. Johnson found 40 instances between 2017 and 2019 of Noel double-dipping, working off-duty details that the then-captain assigned himself.

Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Johnette Hardiman declined to charge Noel with criminal Official Misconduct.

In July 2020, Assistant Miami-Dade State Attorney Johnette Hardiman declined to prosecute Noel for official misconduct, concluding the evidence Johnson and LaMantia had gathered with assistance from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was not enough to file criminal charges, according to an email from the state prosecutor attached to the investigative report.

Johnson and LaMantia subsequently requested that detectives from the Miami-Dade Police Professional Compliance Bureau continue the internal affairs investigation into Noel for possible violations of police regulation of Bay Harbor Islands, a tiny town (less than a half-square mile) off Biscayne Bay with nearly 6,000 residents.

At the time, Johnson wanted an outside agency to provide an independent evaluation because Noel had filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against the town, the investigative report states.

Johnson, who retired from Bay Harbor Islands before the compliance bureau investigation was completed, accused Noel of violating the town police’s ethics and integrity code; not paying the town a surcharge applied to every completed off-duty assignment for 37 details he worked, and changing dates he worked in the police department’s payroll system 100 times after he learned he was under investigation.

On Nov. 2, 2021, after spending nearly a year interviewing other town police officials and reviewing payroll records, compliance bureau detectives took a sworn statement from Noel.

He told investigators that the town schedules, calendars and payroll entries for days he worked were inaccurate, according to the investigative report and a transcript of the interview. Noel also claimed that it was common practice for town police officers to personally adjust their shifts on the work schedules.

“[The calendar] is not accurately reflecting my time worked or time off,” Noel said. “But I may have put in more than 40 hours, it’s not going to depict that on the schedule…I was on call all the time.”

During the first hour of his sworn statement, Noel said it was possible he could have worked some off-duty details when he was also being paid by Bay Harbor Islands, but that he wasn’t sure. Later on in the interview, Noel asserted that he was certain that he did not work both off-duty and on-duty assignments simultaneously.

“I’ve given the town more hours…than I’ve allegedly taken from the town or worked simultaneously for an off-duty detail,” Noel said during his sworn statement. “I believe this is a political witch hunt against me and [it] also has to do with race.”

THE LAMANTIA INVESTIGATION

In early 2022, then-town police rookie Megan Cabrera filed a complaint with Bay Harbor Islands Police Lt. Joseph Locke that alleged LaMantia, her shift supervisor, had created a hostile work environment for her and other co-workers and that she did not feel safe being around the sergeant.

bay harbor
Bay Harbor Islands Police Chief Lindsley Noel with Bay Harbor Islands Police Capt. John Locke, who investigated the sergeant who investigated the chief’s off-duty money-making details. 

Unlike Noel’s case, LaMantia faced an in-house internal affairs probe. Meanwhile, Noel had risen through the ranks from captain to deputy chief to acting chief, Bay Harbor Islands records show.

In a Feb. 27, 2022 memo and during an interview with Locke the same day, Cabrera accused LaMantia of making sexist and derogatory comments about women in general, according to a 96-page Bay Harbor Islands Police investigative report.

“He has told me on multiple occasions that he doesn’t like to work with women, he hates women and doesn’t believe we should be police officers,” Cabrera said, according to a transcript of her sworn statement.

Locke also interviewed two other police employees who claimed they had witnessed LaMantia picking on Cabrera, as well as making them uncomfortable. Dispatcher Tomas Rego alleged that he overheard Lamantia tell Cabrera that she couldn’t do her job because she was a woman.

Corporal Patrick Munschy, who is of Brazilian descent, accused LaMantia of targeting him because of his ethnicity.

On July 18, 2022, Locke concluded the internal affairs probe, sustaining four violations against LaMantia: Harassment, discrimination, derogatory ethnic remarks and improper conduct. Three months later, LaMantia met with then-Acting Chief Noel, Town Attorney Joe Geller and then-Town Manager Maria Lasday, who had the final say on the sergeant’s punishment.

During the meeting, LaMantia denied making sexist and racist remarks. He claimed that Cabrera, Rego and Munschy disliked him because he was a tough supervisor who held them accountable.

Former Bay Harbor Islands Town Manager Maria Lindsay promoted Noel to chief despite findings of Miami-Dade police probe.

“I stand by my character and I am proud of it,” LaMantia said during the meeting. “I’ve been blessed with lasting friendships with people of every background and race.”

On Sept. 15, 2022, Noel notified LaMantia that he was being terminated.

NOEL WINS TOP JOB

On June 23 of last year, the Miami-Dade Police investigation into Noel was officially closed and the findings forwarded to Lasday for her consideration. At the time, the town manager was considering making Noel chief’s title permanent.

The Miami-Dade police investigation offered Lasday no recommendations, but their report included every instance of double dipping backed up by town documents. Further, what Noel had to say in his sworn statement were not credible, like how he couldn’t explain where he was on any of the days he was off-duty and on-duty. The county report noted the inconsistencies in Noel’s defenses.

Neveretheless, Lasday was apparently unsatisfied with the Miami-Dade police’s investigation. So she contacted Patrick Franklin, a private investigator and retired Miami Beach police officer, to provide an analysis of the professional compliance bureau’s report. (Lasday resigned as town manager on June 10 of this year).

In his July 25, 2023 analysis, Franklin focused on flaws and holes in the Noel internal affairs investigation that made it difficult to prove that Noel had committed a crime or violated department policy. “No one ever thought of conducting simple surveillance which would have easily proven the ‘double-dipping’ allegation,” Franklin wrote. “Then-Capt. Noel’s work pattern – on-duty and off-duty – was common knowledge. No one – especially Capt. Noel – thought he was doing anything wrong, much less illegal.”

Franklin also downplayed Noel changing dates he worked in the police department’s payroll system 100 times: “Albeit, odd and never been done before, especially so late in the game, there was nothing prohibiting this practice.”

On Aug. 1, the Bay Harbor Islands Town Council  voted 4-1 to approve Lasday’s recommendation to give Noel a police chief contract that pays him $196,117, as well as settle his EEOC complaint for $75,000.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • It would appear that now chief Noel, did some very troubling actions, and should not have been promoted. This will undermine his credibility as an upholder, and enforcer, of the law.

  • It’s not typical for an employee to access payroll systems to change the dates they themselves have worked. His supervisor would have access to that, not himself. Franklin is not making sense when he call it “odd” – it’s actually unheard of!

  • Did I read the report correctly? Noel worked THIRTY SEVEN details and changed dates in payroll system ONE HUNDRED times? How does he still have a job? Unethical much?
    One time is a mistake. Dozens of violations is a choice made by someone with no ethics or integrity. What was the town manager thinking? Congratulations Bay Harbor!

  • Changing the dates of a payroll discrepancy is understandable once or twice say, in maybe a year. After all, we are human and sometimes. Do to it over 100 times in the span of a few months implys that they are being done due to serious questionable practices or the person is a bumbling moron and should definitely not be promoted to a Chiefs position.

  • I’ll bet he really wants to outdo the Sheriff of Broward County!
    Which one would exhibit the most unethical behavior?

leave a comment