Fred Grimm

Fred Grimm: Broward sheriffs share amnesia about money

Back in January, Broward County’s Scott Israel welcomed one of his predecessors back into the old haunts. It seemed a little disconcerting at the time, the new sheriff embracing an ex-con there at BSO headquarters.

In retrospect, it’s not so shocking that they’d cozy up to one another. New Sheriff Israel and ousted Sheriff Jenne share a certain personality quirk.

They forget.

Ken Jenne famously forgot to disclose certain peculiar “loans” from his own employees and forgot, when federal investigators came calling, to tell them about money he received from private contractors. The feds tallied up $151,625 in improper compensation that Sheriff Jenne pocketed before he was carted off to federal prison in 2007 — including $60,000 from a private security firm for “virtually no work” in 2003.

Sheriff Israel has his own memory problems.

Dan Christensen of the reported last week that Israel was scurrying about trying to reconcile his financial disclosure declarations with income tax filings. He seemed to have had problems remembering how much money ($27,000) he had received from a private security firm in 2012, the year he ran for office.

Christensen also reported that Israel had only just now managed to get his name removed from state records as a “principal” in a Weston private investigations firm, Talon/G6. Israel’s shares in the company were apparently bought out by Lewis Nadel. That was the same Lewis Nadel whose security firm, Innovative Surveillance Technology, had been funneling money to Ken Jenne back in the day.

Israel also forgot to disclose that Robert Pereira, who had contributed $245,000 to his political PAC, had taken the sheriff-elect and his family on a five-day Bahamas cruise aboard Pereira’s $35 million super yacht. State law requires that a pol report any gift over $100. But BSO told WPLG Channel 10 that the jaunt wasn’t a gift because Israel’s wife had sent Pereira a $1,500 check to pay for Scott’s fabulous vacation. (Channel 10 reported that those of us who aren’t the sheriff can enjoy the same yacht for $190,000 a week.)

Earlier this year, Israel hired another political supporter, lobbyist Jorge Forte, as a $187-an-hour consultant to produce an analysis of the sheriff’s automobile fleet. The Sun-Sentinel described the $15,000 report as worthless, “rife with grammar and spelling errors — including the misspelling of ‘sheriff’ on the cover page — and contained rudimentary analysis. His conclusions were five paragraphs long.”

Forte was busted August 7 in an FBI sting, accused of taking $60,000 in kickbacks in return for greasing deals down in Sweetwater.

Maybe sleazy associations and suspicious gobs of money and rampant amnesia are inevitable in urban communities that still elect politicians to run their police forces. The late Broward Sheriff Ron Cochran once ruefully once described BSO as “a 5,000-member political action committee with badges and guns.”

Maybe it’s time for Broward to junk antiquated sheriff elections and appoint a professional police chief. And forget about the likes of Ken Jenne and Scott Israel.