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State investigators seek suspension of Broward Sheriff's certification over 'broken' public trust

Sheriff Gregory Tony
CLIFF FROMMER/ Broward Sheriff's Office
Sheriff Gregory Tony

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is asking a judge to suspend Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony's law enforcement certification for six months, saying he broke public trust by not accurately filling out driver's license applications.

"The position of an officer is one of great public trust and the Respondent’s calculated actions have broken that trust," Andrew Digby, assistant general counsel for FDLE, wrote in court records filed Monday afternoon. "There can be no more basic public expectation than that those who enforce the laws must themselves obey the law."

The FDLE is a statewide investigative law enforcement agency and handles investigations into officers. Their case against Tony is one of two state investigations into his conduct.

READ MORE: 'Our faith is shaky': Religious leaders say Broward Sheriff misled them on arrest diversion program

In the first case to come to a ruling, Tony “was untruthful in his answers” when obtaining a replacement license in Lauderdale Lakes in 2019, according to FDLE.

“The offense of falsifying information on a driver license application is an act involving moral turpitude,” Digby wrote. "...The Sheriff of Broward County, is inherently held to a higher standard due to his position being one of great power within the community."

Tony's attorney Stephen Webster answered back with a filing asking the judge to dismiss the complaint because FDLE "failed to demonstrate through clear and convincing evidence that the Respondent [Tony] knowingly made a false statement, concealed a material fact, or otherwise committed fraud when he submitted the online applications."

Administrative Law Judge Robert Kilbride will ultimately decide on whether to temporarily revoke his certification, although the timeline for this decision is unclear. FDLE is also requesting a year of probation for Tony.

Since a civilian can hold the position of sheriff, any action over his certification would not affect his role as an elected official. But he would not be able to act as a carry out law enforcement officer in Florida.

This case began in July 2023 after FDLE's Director of Criminal Justice Professionalism, Dean Register, filed a complaint against Tony, alleging he had made a "false statement" on eight separate occasions when applying for a driver's license.

A second case that is still pending with the state’s Division of Administrative Hearings surrounds alleged lies and omissions on forms that led him to his first cop job in Coral Springs, and ultimately his rise to sheriff.

That case began in September 2022 after the Florida Commission on Ethics said it found probable cause into Tony's actions. It could end with with a judge recommending Governor Ron DeSantis suspend Tony.

Louis J. Baptiste, one of Tony’s lawyers in the second case, has previously said that Tony “looks forward to a swift finding of innocence.”

Tony is running for reelection this year. He was praised by Governor Ron DeSantis last year as one of the "good ones."

Gerard Albert III covers Broward County. He is a former WLRN intern who graduated from Florida International University. He can be reached atgalbert@wlrnnews.org
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