As state readies criminal hearing, Broward sheriff’s ethics hearing on hold

Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony’s ethics hearing, a case that could mean a recommendation to the governor to remove him from office, has been postponed.

In court documents filed Wednesday, Melody Hadley, the attorney for the Florida Commission on Ethics, agreed with Tony’s defense lawyer that another pending case, one being prosecuted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, should happen first. That case is anticipated to happen in September, according to the court filing.

June McKinney, the administrative law judge, then signed an order Wednesday granting the extension and postponing next Monday’s hearing.

In June 2022, a panel that is part of the state Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission determined there is probable cause for continuing its case against Tony after reviewing “unlawful acts” in eight cases surrounding his Florida driver’s license paperwork.

The commission is part of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

His police certification hinges on the determining whether the allegations merit a response. If Tony loses his certification, he loses the ability to act as a law enforcement officer in Florida. But it has no bearing on Tony’s role as Broward Sheriff, since a civilian can hold the elected position, such as former sheriffs Bob Butterworth and Ken Jenne.

The case that had been scheduled for next week at the Broward County courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale was brought by the state’s ethics commission. In September, the commission said it found probable cause to pursue a case into Tony’s alleged lies, behavior one member called “despicable.”

The ethics commission alleged Tony wouldn’t have risen to become Broward’s top cop had it not been for his untruths and omissions on official law enforcement forms as he underwent background checks as a starting officer with Coral Springs police, and years later, as he underwent a vetting process to be appointed sheriff by the governor in 2019.

Although Hadley, the attorney for the Florida Commission on Ethics, had recommended that the Ethics Commission find no probable cause, the state panel found otherwise, saying Tony “misused his public position” when he provided false information or did not disclose information, determining that the “extraordinary relevant set of facts” that he omitted directly benefited him in getting jobs.

The end result could potentially be a recommendation that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suspend him.

Lisa J. Huriash can be reached at Follow on Twitter @LisaHuriash

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