Broward

Broward sheriff underreported income in state disclosure

 
 
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel

BrowardBulldog.org

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel will amend his recently filed financial disclosure form after it was disclosed he had underreported his pay last year from a Fort Lauderdale private security firm, his lawyer said.

When he filed the notarized form in June, Israel stated that “Cambridge Securities,” of Fort Lauderdale, had paid him $13,350 in 2012. In fact, Israel’s 2012 tax return reveals that Cambridge paid him $27,000 for his services as a “security executive,” before his election as sheriff.

Also, the company name was wrong in Israel’s filing. It is Cambridge Security Service, not Cambridge Securities.

BSO general counsel Ron Gunzburger, the sheriff’s lawyer, called those discrepancies a “scrivener’s error” and said “the sheriff will be filing an amended [disclosure] form.”

Israel’s public résumé and his Facebook page recount his professional experience but don’t reference either Cambridge Security or Securities.

The discrepancy was discovered by BrowardBulldog.org after the news site raised questions about another aspect of the sheriff’s private business affairs. In response to that, Israel supplied a copy of his tax forms from 2011 and 2012, from which the underreporting could be gleaned.

It’s not the first controversy this summer over Israel’s private dealings. Last month, WPLG Channel 10 reported that the sheriff and his family had taken a five-day trip on a $35 million yacht, paying just $1,500. The luxury vessel, the NewVida, rents for $190,000 a week, according to Channel 10.

The yacht is owned by Robert Pereira, a construction magnate who donated $250,000 to Israel’s political action committee last October, a month before he unseated incumbent Al Lamberti. The trip occurred after Israel’s election but before his swearing-in.

Israel told newsman Michael Putney that “the law was followed by me and my staff to the letter” and that the $1,500 was equivalent to the cost of “coach” tickets on a regular cruise line. He denied the trip constituted a “gift” that should have been disclosed.

The outside business ties of Broward’s elected officials, particularly the sheriff, have been a matter of keen public interest since 2005 when news of then-Sheriff Ken Jenne’s private business dealings touched off a federal investigation that landed Jenne in prison.

In another development involving Israel’s former business interests, state records were changed last week to delete a reference to him being a “principal” in a Weston private investigations firm, Talon/G6.

The changes followed inquiries by BrowardBulldog.org.

The Florida Division of Licensing removed Israel’s name from its records about Talon/G6 after deciding to accept a signed resignation letter from Israel that it had rejected only months before as inadequate, according to division spokeswoman Erin Gillespie.

In the letter, dated April 20, 2011, Israel resigned as Talon/G6’s president and relinquished all ownership in corporate stock. The letter, however, was not received at the division until last October, just a few weeks before Israel was elected.

The division replied to Israel that proof — a notarized letter or corporate minutes reflecting the change — was required before Israel’s name would be dropped from its records, but no response was ever received, Gillespie said.

Israel remained listed as a principal of Talon/G6 until last week, when the division’s new chief of its Bureau of License Issuance, Stuart Scott, informed staff that Israel’s letter was now considered sufficient because a check of the state’s Division of Corporations website showed that Israel was no longer listed as company officer there.

At Talon/G6, Israel’s partner was James Scarberry, a former Hollywood police chief. Scarberry gained notoriety in 2007 when federal prosecutors said they were forced prematurely to shut down a two-year FBI undercover investigation of police corruption in Hollywood after Scarberry leaked word of the probe to the mayor, city manager and at least a half-dozen others.

“We were betrayed by the police chief,” retired FBI agent Jack Garcia told Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm in 2008.

Who bought Israel’s Talon/G6 shares?

According to Scarberry, it was a former BSO vendor with unsavory ties to ex-sheriff Ken Jenne.

“He sold his interest to Lewis Nadel,” said Scarberry, who remains with Talon/G6. Asked how much Nadel paid, Scarberry said, “I don’t want to discuss it with you.”

Nadel, vice president of Talon/G6, was a central player in the corruption case that led to Jenne’s downfall six years ago.

Nadel was then president of Innovative Surveillance Technology, a company that had sold over $250,000 worth of equipment to BSO between 2003 and 2005. He also owned an eponymous consulting and training company for law enforcement agencies.

According to the charges to which Jenne pleaded guilty, Jenne provided Nadel with access to off-duty sheriffs deputies that Nadel would hire to do work for his companies. In exchange for that access, Nadel paid a total of $5,500 to Jenne’s executive assistant — money that ended up in Jenne’s bank account, prosecutors said.

Asked about the sheriff’s Talon/G6 stock sale, Gunzburger put distance between the sheriff and Nadel.

“The sheriff sold his shares directly back to the corporation in April 2011” for $5,000, Gunzburger said. “The corporation subsequently sold at least some of those shares to Mr. Nadel. But there was not any direct transfer/sale of shares, nor any exchange of money between Mr. Nadel and the sheriff.

While Scarberry, Gunzburger and Nadel himself all said that Nadel owns a piece of Talon/G6, his status is not reflected in state records. The Division of Licensing only shows that Nadel currently holds a license as a private investigator intern. Gillespie said the company has been asked “to file the appropriate information.”

A stock purchase agreement filed with the state says that a Pompano company called Tecwatch paid $5,000 for 50 percent of Talon/G6’s stock on the same day Israel signed his letter of resignation.

Tecwatch’s lone corporate officer, director Thomas Strok, signed that agreement. Strok and Nadel are longtime co-directors of the South Florida Crime Commission, a nonprofit that does good deeds for law enforcement agencies.

Strok did not return messages seeking comment.

Nadel confirmed that he owns part of Talon/G6, but not via Tecwatch. He added that his friend’s investment was intended to help Israel by taking the company off his hands.

“Tom owns Tecwatch. I have nothing to do with Tecwatch,” said Nadel. “Tecwatch assumed [Israel’s] points so he could run for sheriff.”

Broward Bulldog is a not-for-profit online only newspaper created to provide local reporting in the public interest. Go to www.browardbulldog.org; call 954-603-1351.

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