|Click here to enlarge.|
UPDATED Monday, July 29 @ 3:00pm: Sun-Sentinel - BSO deputies are reminded not to take gifts.
UPDATED Sunday, July 28 @ 6:30pm: Sheriff Scott Israel appeared on Michael Putney's show today. Click here to see the complete interview.
Recognize these names? Ken Jenne, John Timoney, Carlos Noriega, Donald Warshaw, Cheryl Cason and Tom Hunker.
If you follow the news closely, then you know that all of those people, at one time or another, were in charge of various South Florida police departments.
And all were ethically challenged. And a few were just downright corrupt.
Now, it might be time to add another name to that list.
Ken Jenne, was Broward County's top cop from 1998 until 2007. In September 2007 he agreed to plead guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud charges. Jenne got a year in the federal pen.
Miami Police Chief John Timoney got in trouble after it was learned that he drove a brand-new Lexus SUV for more than a year "without paying the car dealership a penny."
Carlos Noriega was Miami Beach's police chief from 2007 until 2011. During his tenure, he grappled with one scandal after another, including drunken cops joyriding in police ATVs on the beach and a deadly 2011 Memorial Day shooting. Towards the end of his term as police chief, Noriega was also dogged with questions over his decision to give official-looking police badges to a select group of friends.
Donald Warshaw, who was Miami's police chief before becoming city manager, was indicted in September of 2000 on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and mail fraud. In 2001 he was sentenced to a year in prison.
Cheryl Cason was the police chief of the tiny, crime-ridden town of Opa-Locka until her retirement this year. Hired in 1984, Cason had two failed drug tests and more than 22 disciplinary charges before becoming chief.
Tom Hunker, until he was fired last March, was police chief of the tiny Village of Bal Harbour. Hunker, a retired Miami Beach narcotics detective, became enmeshed in scandal after questions were raised over his department's handling and spending of millions of dollars in cash seized from drug dealers.
Last January, Scott Israel, the former police chief of North Bay Village, became the latest law enforcement professional to head the Broward Sheriff's Office, the largest, fully accredited sheriff's department in the country.
A little more than a week after taking office - and even before he'd learned the location of all the elevators at BSO headquarters - Israel raised more than a few eyebrows when he invited Ken Jenne, the disgraced former Broward sheriff and convicted felon, to visit him in "the $1.6 million office space Jenne used public funds to redecorate."
And while Jenne's visit to BSO wasn't a secret, something Israel did in secret shortly before his swearing-in is now the focus of some scrutiny.
Early last week Local 10's Bob Norman reported that Israel took "a five-day luxury cruise to the Bahamas on a $35 million super-yacht ... paid for by the sheriff’s largest campaign donor, construction magnate Robert Pereira."
Norman reports Israel reimbursed Pereira for the trip with a check for $1500.
Israel claims he did nothing wrong by accepting the yacht trip; but his reaction to Norman's straightforward questions about the trip say otherwise. Any reporter who's ever cornered a corrupt politician will attest to that.
Norman also reports that shortly after Israel refused to answer his questions, he called Local 10 to say he'd never talk to Norman again. Again, the reaction of a public official with something to hide.
A few days after Norman's first report, Israel went on a local radio show to defend himself. But not just any radio show.
Israel went on the Rich Stevens Show on WFTL-AM. In a video that looks like it was shot by a five year-old, Israel described Stevens as "the consummate professional."
And, while all this was going on, something very bizarre happened. A website called the "Broward Bugle" sent out this tweet:
Channel 10's Bob Norman acting erratic and aggressive. Time for BSO deputies to detain him. #taser #redbroward
— Broward Bugle (@BrowardBugle) July 25, 2013
So what is a Broward Bugle, you ask, and why are they calling on BSO deputies to "detain" and "taser" Bob Norman?
Last May, Broward Bulldog executive editor Dan Christensen wrote this of the "Bugle" and its backers:
The registered owner of an online Broward “news” operation contributed over $120,000 to a political group that made payments to a firm owned by Sheriff Scott Israel’s campaign manager, Amy Rose, and to her husband.
Andrew James Miller, 29, gave the money to Taxpayers for Integrity in Government last August, amid Israel’s successful bid to unseat then-Sheriff Al Lamberti, election records show.
Miller is a protégé of flamboyant South Florida-based political consultant and prospective gubernatorial candidate, Roger Stone. Miller describes himself on his Twitter page as a “political pirate, provocateur, street fighter.”
The secretive Bugle does not identify its publisher or staffers by their real names. Its Hollywood attorney, Holiday Hunt Russell, would not answer questions about his client. Stone, an Israel supporter with a reputation as a political dirty trickster, has been rumored for months to be behind it because of stories with headlines like last month’s “Lamberti has Chutzpah.”
“I’m nervous talking about this. I don’t want to say something wrong,” said Miller when asked about the Bugle. “I’m not the one running it. I know who is, but I’m not at liberty to give any names. It’s above my pay grade.”
Said Stone, “I’m not going to talk about the Bugle, I’m really not."
Scott Israel, Broward's top cop, apparently has no problem rolling out the red carpet for a convicted felon or accepting a trip on a multi-million dollar yacht from a billionaire who just wants to be the sheriff's "friend." A "friend," who according to Israel, wants nothing in return. All of this while Israel seemingly gives tacit approval to a shady website that exists for no other reason than to attack Israel's critics.
The sheriff, it appears, has forgotten two adages, "You are judged by the company you keep," and "Appearances are everything."
When Scott Israel's term as Broward sheriff ends, he may looked upon as the most ethical person to ever hold that office.
But until that happens, if I were a Broward County taxpayer, I'd be nervous about Scott Israel.
Sun-Sentinel: Sheriff: Yacht trip with campaign supporter broke no laws
Local 10: Sheriff Scott Israel makes new hires to 'connect with community'