After Finding Sheriff Lied to Coral Springs Police, FDLE Sends Case to State Ethics Commission

Sheriff Gregory Tony

Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony.

By Kevin Deutsch

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Thursday said it has sent the findings from its investigation into Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony to the Florida Commission on Ethics, setting the stage for a process that could jeopardize the sheriff’s job.

The FDLE report on Tony, made public Monday, found he told several lies on official government records—including falsehoods on his Coral Springs Police Department application files, an affidavit he signed when becoming Broward’s newest sheriff, and a Florida driver’s license replacement application filed in Lauderdale Lakes.

The lies happened too long ago for criminal charges to be filed, and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles clerk’s memory of the license renewal case is too spotty for the state to prove the “criminal allegations” beyond a reasonable doubt, state prosecutors said in a memo made public alongside the FDLE’s findings.

Harbor Chase in Coral Springs

Instead, prosecutors suggested the FDLE submit all materials generated from its investigation to the Florida Commission on Ethics in Tallahassee.

“The investigation has been submitted,” FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told Coral Springs Talk Thursday.

The Florida Commission on Ethics is an independent, nine-member commission formed in 1974 to review complaints filed under the statutory Code of Ethics.

If the Ethics Commission believes a violation of the law may have occurred, it can decide to hold a public hearing. If it concludes a violation has been committed, it can recommend civil penalties, including removal from office or employment and fines up to $10,000 per violation.

While state officials said Tony will not face criminal charges for lying on official records, he could face a temporary or permanent suspension by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—the governor who appointed him sheriff in January 2019—with or without the Ethics Commission’s recommendation.

Under Florida law, DeSantis has the power to suspend any local official for malfeasance and other improprieties. The suspended official also has the right to appeal the governor’s decision before the Florida Senate.

The governor this week said his office is reviewing the FDLE’s findings.

FDLE investigators, who opened a probe into Tony after receiving a complaint, said their investigation found he lied about his arrest history when he applied to join the Coral Springs Police Department in 2005. He was hired by the city and rose to the rank of sergeant.

Before being offered a job with the local force, Tony failed to disclose he had been arrested for fatally shooting a man in Philadelphia in 1993, when he was 14 years old, according to FDLE.

Tony was charged with murder, the agency said, and later found not guilty, having argued the killing was an act of self-defense.

He did not mention his murder arrest on Coral Springs Police application records or on an official sheriff’s affidavit after taking office, according to FDLE.

He also lied about past drug use and his traffic citation history on various official documents, the FDLE found.

“It should also be noted that although it appears that Tony knowingly and willfully mislead 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) to members of the CSPD, a criminal prosecution of these actions would be negated per…Florida’s Statute of Limitations,” investigators wrote.

EI-14-0173 E-Combined Summary w Addendum (UPDATED)_Redacted

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Kevin Deutsch

Kevin Deutsch
Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.

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