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Retiring BSO official got 2 years pay for accrued sick, vacation time

When Col. Tim Gillette was ousted from his job with the Broward Sheriff’s Office this month as part of a transition to a new sheriff, he left with the paycheck of a lifetime: $340,653.

During his 36-year career with BSO, Gillette accrued 3,378.53 hours of sick time and 963.19 of vacation time — the equivalent of more than two years, when combined.

Gillette was one of 16 BSO employees who received wage payouts of more than $100,000 when they left BSO as Sheriff Al Lamberti’s tenure came to an end in January, according to BSO payout records as of the Jan. 18th payroll. In all, the agency anticipates it will pay $4.3 million to 53 employees for unused time off and sick days. The second highest amount was about $175,000.

Gillette, who earned about $163,000 a year, was one of 28 high-ranking officials who received notice in December from incoming Sheriff’s Scott Israel’s transition team that they were fired. By that point, additional higher-ups in the department had already announced they would go. Gillette’s earnings were $340,653.52 and, minus taxes and other deductions, his net pay was $223,808.56. Efforts to reach Gillette were not successful.

Outgoing Sheriff Al Lamberti, who started at BSO in 1977 as a detention deputy, received $52,266 in wages, according to the BSO payroll document. But that appears to be before taxes and deductions. Lamberti told the Miami Herald that his final payout was about $34,000.

The large payout for Gillette and other high-ranking officials is one of many subjects of squabbling between Republican Lamberti and Israel, the Democrat who beat him Nov. 6. WPLG Channel 10 previously reported about the payouts.

Gillette’s payout appears to follow BSO’s policy based on his rank, hours accumulated and lengthy tenure at the agency. But that policy also left the discretion in the hands of Lamberti.

BSO policy

Vacation time is now capped at 320 hours, but Gillette was grandfathered in and allowed to carry over those hours, said spokeswoman Veda Coleman-Wright. And Gillette had no cap on sick time accrual. For BSO employees, including deputies who are in a union, there exists a cap on how much unused sick time an employee can get paid for. Colonel Gillette wasn’t in the union.

Lamberti said in an interview with the Herald Tuesday that he followed BSO’s policy, which allowed Gillette to accrue the unused hours and get 100 percent. Gillette rarely if ever called in sick, Lamberti said.

“I know his work ethic. He is conscientious...,” Lamberti said. “I followed the policy and the precedent that is in place.”

Lamberti said he did nothing unusual — the same policy was in place under his predecessor, Ken Jenne, who resigned in 2007. He had pleaded guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud and went to prison. Jenne changed the policy from a blanket 100 percent to add discretion of the sheriff in case someone resigned who wasn’t in good standing, said Lamberti, who said he agreed with that change. Gillette “left in exceptional standing,” Lamberti said.

Lamberti said that BSO alerted Israel’s transition team about the payouts.

“We discussed it with them,” Lamberti said. “That’s the policy. This is what we are going to do. They understood, and were okay with it.”

But Israel said in an interview Tuesday that he wasn’t personally given any such notice.

“I think it’s poor management of county tax dollars,” Israel said. Lamberti “was allowed to do what he did, it’s just poor discretion.”

Israel, who said he wants to revisit the payout policy, didn’t have an exact figure for what he would have paid Gillette but said something less than 40 or 50 percent of his accumulated hours.

Miami-Dade policy

Miami-Dade County has a 500-hour cap on vacation payouts for all employees — including government and police, including those in management or unions.

For sick time payout in Miami-Dade, the amount is calculated based on years of service and the cap is 1,000 hours. But for employees who have served 30 years or more, they can get 100 percent of their sick time payout even if it is above the cap.