Ft. Lauderdale, FL – A Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) investigation determined that Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony lied multiple times on his applications to police departments, including when he was appointed sheriff in Broward County, but it’s unlikely he’ll suffer any consequences.
FDLE investigators determined that Sheriff Tony lied multiple times on his application to the Coral Springs Police Department in 2005, WPLG reported.
He also lied on an affidavit to become sheriff of Broward County and, most recently, committed the felony of “false affidavit perjury” when he lied on a form to obtain a replacement driver’s license, according to the state investigative bureau.
But Sheriff Tony won’t be charged with any crimes for his lies because of the statutes of limitations in Florida have expired on most of his crimes, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
“Although it appears that Tony knowingly and willfully [misled] public servants in the performance of their official duties by making false statements in writing on his official applications (regarding his traffic citation, drug use, and arrest history)… a criminal prosecution of these actions would be negated,” FDLE Agent Keith Riddick wrote in a memo.
A thorough investigation conducted by FDLE showed that the Broward sheriff had fatally shot 18-year-old Hector Rodriguez in Philadelphia when he was just 14 years old, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
The incident occurred in May of 1993 when Tony lived in the Badlands in inner city Philadelphia, WPLG reported.
Sheriff Tony explained what happened in an interview in 2020, calling the incident a “violent encounter” that he and his brother survived.
“Unfortunately, we had a dispute with him — my brother and me — in front of our home and he made threats to kill us and he literally pulled out a gun. He had no problem with shooting us right there,” Sheriff Tony said.
So he told WPLG he shot and killed Rodriguez before he could shoot at them.
The sheriff went into a little more detail about the incident in a 2020 interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
“He [Rodriguez] pulled his gun out and made threats, saying he didn’t have any issue shooting me and my brother,” he explained. “We ran into the house and he chased after us.”
“Fortunately I was able to get my father’s gun,” Sheriff Tony continued. “Before he was able to shoot me and my brother, I was able to defend myself and shoot him.”
Then-14-year-old Tony was arrested and charged with Rodriguez’s murder, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
He stood trial, claimed self-defense, and was ultimately acquitted, WPLG reported.
The charges were expunged from the future Broward sheriff’s record.
But when he applied for law enforcement jobs later in his life, he was required to disclose the arrest and he didn’t, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
“Tony was arrested and charged with murder, possessing instruments of crime, possession of an unlicensed firearm, and carrying firearms on public streets or public property in Philadelphia,” FLDE said in its report.
However, the agency was unable to find records or details about the case because so much time had passed.
FDLE also determined that Sheriff Tony had lied on law enforcement applications about traffic tickets, prior drug use, and a charge for passing a bad check, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
He answered “no” to the Coral Springs Police Department when he was asked if he was “ever in a fight in which a weapon was used” or if he had “injured or caused the death of another person.”
FDLE’s report said that Sheriff Tony also claimed that “fighting” was “most serious thing” he had ever done in his life, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Investigators found records in Philadelphia of Sheriff Tony listed as the defendant in a 1992 probation case, but no details on the case.
FDLE also found a second probation case naming Sheriff Tony in 1994 that resulted from a driving violation, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Despite lying on his application, he was hired by Coral Springs and served 12 years on its police force before he left to focus full time on the active-shooter and mass casualty incident training company that he founded, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
While he served Coral Springs Police Department, Sheriff Tony was on the SWAT team for five years and attained the rank of sergeant.
He served as a sergeant for three years and left the Coral Springs PD in 2016, two years before the Parkland massacre.
He was appointed sheriff of Broward County in January of 2019, the week after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis took office.
DeSantis suspended the controversial then-Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and introduced Sheriff Tony at the same press conference in front of the Broward Safety Building.
Sheriff Israel has been the subject of intense criticism after it was discovered that members of the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) failed to respond to the active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in accordance with modern law enforcement training.
An FDLE investigation determined that multiple BSO deputies had failed to make any attempt to stop the shooter as they listened to him shoot 34 students and staff.
Seventeen people were killed as a result of the Feb. 14, 2018 massacre.
DeSantis honored a campaign promise when he suspended Sheriff Israel, but when news broke of Sheriff Gregory’s criminal history in 2020, the governor took a very public step back, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
“It’s not like he’s my sheriff,” the governor told reporters. “I didn’t even know the guy. It was not like he was a political ally of mine.”
The FDLE report said that when Sheriff Tony was vetted by the state agency prior to his appointment by DeSantis, he checked “false” next to the statement: “I had a criminal record sealed or expunged,” according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Lying on that background form is a misdemeanor.
However, FDLE investigators said they weren’t able to unearth documentation in Pennsylvania “to account for the permanently removed/erased information from their system,” the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
“Although the records pertaining to the arrest of Gregory Tony for the murder of Hector Rodriguez appeared to have been expunged, [Office of Executive Investigations] Inspectors were unable to find any documentation which identified who requested and/or caused said expungement,” the FDLE report read.
FDLE investigators also determined that Sheriff Tony had committed “false affidavit perjury,” a third-degree felony, when claimed he had never had his license suspended on his replacement driver’s license application just 22 days after he was appointed Broward County sheriff, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
It turned out that Sheriff Tony’s driver’s license had been suspended five times in Pennsylvania in the early 1990s, according to the state investigators.
FDLE’s Office of Executive Investigations asked the State’s Attorney’s Office to investigate the sheriff’s Feb. 1, 2019 visit to the Lauderdale Lakes driver’s license office, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Florida State’s Attorney’s Office Special Prosecutions Chief Anthony Kunasek said in a Jan. 26 memo that the clerk at the license bureau’s uncertainly about whether she had asked Sheriff Tony if his license was suspended “in any state” made the case impossible to prosecute.
However, Kunasek recommended in the memo that the whole case be sent to the Florida Commission on Ethics for review, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Despite the shadow of the ongoing investigation, Sheriff Tony was elected sheriff in 2020.
He has claimed that his critics don’t like him because he’s a reformer and said that was why they were trying to hold “an act of self-defense” in his youth against him, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Sheriff Tony also had an explanation for why he didn’t honestly disclose his past, WPLG reported.
“Whether I’ve said it in an interview or saying it right now, this is not something that I’m afraid to speak about in public,” he said. “But the reality is, in an application process, when you’re coming in for an employment, one, it doesn’t require you to bring it up, and two, I don’t want to be some 14-year-old black kid who survived a shooting. I don’t want to be someone’s victim.”
The Broward sheriff refused to be interviewed by FDLE for its investigation.
The case was closed just days after Sheriff Tony fired one of his biggest detractors, deputies’ union president Jeffrey Bell.
The sheriff said an internal affairs investigation had determined that Deputy Bell was corrupt and untruthful, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
Bell’s attorneys have called previously called Sheriff Tony’s actions against the union boss “union-busting.”