Update: Ethics Police Won’t Punish Sheriff Israel





The Florida Ethics Commission, while conceding Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel didn’t follow the law, will do nothing about his failure to report gifts.

 “I feel relieved the entire case was closed by the Commission without even having to go through a trial,” Sheriff Israel said in a written statement.  “I said from the beginning that I followed the law and acted correctly at all times, and this official outcome vindicates my prior statements.”

The investigation concerned a $5,000-plus Bahamian yacht cruise and party, thrown on the yacht to celebrate Israel’s election in 2012.  Israel was the guest of Robert Pereira, a road builder who has become active in Florida politics and was a campaign supporter of the sheriff’s.

Israel was required under state law to report gifts valued over $100.

He didn’t.

The sheriff, however, was new to office and was given a break by ethics commissioners because of his “lack of experience.”    Ethics commissioners also took a shot at Israel’s General Counsel Ron Gunzburger, noting that Israel should not be punished because he relied on Gunzburger’s advise.

Gunzburger told the Sun-Sentinel that “Israel will waive his right to the hearing” and the matter is apparently over.


 Here is their news release:


 “The Commission found probable cause that Broward Sheriff SCOTT ISRAEL failed to report a gift of a trip to the Bahamas that had a value of more than $100. The Commission also found probable cause to believe that he failed to report a gift of a holiday party that was valued at more than $100. However, the Commission will take no further action on the two allegations unless the Sheriff requests a hearing. No probable cause was found to believe that the Sheriff solicited or accepted a prohibited gift, because the donor was not a lobbyist, vendor, or principal of a lobbyist. On January 29, 2014,  Commission found no probable cause to believe that the Sheriff solicited gifts from a prohibited donor.”


The complaint against Israel was filed by a disgruntled former employee.


24 Responses to “Update: Ethics Police Won’t Punish Sheriff Israel”

  1. Owl says:

    The Ethics Commission is free to recommend punishments based on the situation. The real problem is the Sheriff’s statement.

    The County’s top law enforcement officer is “vindicated” by a finding that he broke the law??? Wow.

    I’m sure he’ll blame the statement on his lawyer too. Thankfully his deputies and detectives that appear in Court to testify everyday choose their words better than he does. Otherwise, BSO would really be a joke.

  2. Ghost of McLovin says:

    What about Gunzberger? No repercussions for an erroneous legal advisement? Great hire, Israel.

  3. Notocorruption says:

    The Sheriff’s punishment could be at the hands of the electorate. We can always hope for such an outcome.

  4. Charlotte Greenbarg says:

    In light of the frustrating inaction on many fronts by the Ethics Commission, I think the state should save the money they spend on it and hire a real Inspector General who isn’t afraid of electeds.

  5. Broward Voter says:

    I listened to the entire audio tape of the hearing. It is available on the Sun Sentinel politics website.

    Ethics panel members said the Sheriff acted responsibly. That being the situation they should have thrown the case out entirely. The logic of saying probable cause but not following up on it escapes me.

    Without a doubt the Sheriff was not found guilty of any ethics violation. Suggesting otherwise is incorrect. The case ended without finding and the Sheriff is entitled to say that he violated no ethics laws. Probable cause is not a conviction.

    The evidence was that Israel paid for his trip. He used the methodology found in the statute. He could claimed it as a gift but chose to pay for it instead. His lawyer advised him and the ethics panel did not agree with their own staff who said they did not like it but could not find fault in how the forms were submitted.

    It sounded like a lot of bureaucratic red tape the end result of which is he violated nothing.

  6. Voter says:

    You must be an idiot to write that ignorant post. The Sheriff is an elected official and should have never taken the trip that is not available to Broward taxpayers. And to be so ignorant and arrogant that he is vindicated after being found guilty just shows he accepts illegal behavior for him and his friends, but everyone else “taxpayers” get mistreated by the arm of the law. He should have been fined and should be removed from office. The last sheriff broke the law and Israel is no different. Once you get away with violating the public trust and feel you are untouchable is when behavior likes his only gets worse. This is a travesty for Broward County and an embarassment to BSO. The Shetiff must not have any good judgement or common sense not to disregard the obvious legal advise of a low life uneducated and unethical legal counsel and did what was right. He owes the people of Broward County to do what it right and he in more ways than one has failed to do so. Voters must go to the polls and be heard by voting him out.

  7. Alice McGill says:

    It is good to know that some traditions are upheld in Broward County. Corruption and nepotism,( Gunzberger, Gunzberger), are going strong. From contracts for warping park benches and walkways to gifts bestowed upon our current sheriff, its all OK in Broward County.

  8. Broward Voter says:

    Sheriff Israel, is trying to do a good job, his biggest problem, he has a incompetent clown, to give him counsel

  9. Broward Voter says:

    From a article on the Sun Sentinel
    From the accuser:
    Mr. Gunzburger, former legal counsel to Property Appraiser, Lori Parrish, should be admonished by this Sheriff’s administration, as he is continued to be the highest paid Legal Counselor to the Sheriff, while providing private legal counsel to the Sheriff, by the taxpayers at an expense of more than $200,000.

    Note again, that Ron Gunzburger’s legal advice to the Sheriff is duly noticed by the Florida Division of Ethics as “Poor!” and Sheriff Israel is not ashamed to continue using taxpayer’s money to permit Mr. Gunzburger to continue his employment after bringing such an embarrassment to Broward County.

    I don’t believe that in the private sector, a legal advisor to a corporate leader, would survive in that environment, based on the facts and findings of the Florida Division of Ethics!

  10. Plain Language says:

    Ms. Greenbarg many of us were wondering if you work for a living or have ever held any position of authority? Given your many often negative views on public matters we wonder where your depth of knowledge or expertise could come from? Some of us even worry whether you get laid regularly since your commentary is almost invariably negative about the hearts and souls of others.

    For somebody nobody knows and who does not appear to be particularly well accomplished in her own life, you seem to be very self-confident about judging the hearts and souls of others. People we do know. People who have been tested in public service for years, people who actually have real jobs.

    Perhaps you should listen more and be less judgmental. Less you yourself be judged.

  11. Retraction Bob says:

    I have probable cause to believe it will rain today because I see some clouds in the sky. I have probable cause to believe I will eat lunch today because 97% of the time lunch is part of my daily diet. I have probable cause to believe that a person is innocent in this country until proven (emphasis on last word there) guilty especially in cases like this one that hinge on hyper-technicalities involving statutes that not even this kangaroo court could figure out.

    I have probable cause to believe that sometimes “probable cause” is a kangaroo court’s way of saving face.

    Oh, and did I mention that Bob Norman is a big fat liar on TV?

  12. 3-way says:

    Israel, Gunzie, and Stone are all secret lovers. Israel won’t fire his lover!


    Really!!! Now that would be a story. If you’ve got evidence of this allegation, please come forward.

  13. Rex says:

    Sheriff IIsrael received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Scott Rothstein. His mentor is former Sheriff Ken Jenne, coorupt convicted felon. The Sheriif has a strange website controlled by the crazy republican Roger Stone called Broward Bugle. On this site he pours out propaganda explaining his lies. Buddy I’m disappointed that you down plat this story and support this.clown. He will go the way of Jenne. It was a 190 k trip.

  14. Cutting to the chase says:

    While it is doubtful anyone cares about the truth on this topic here it goes…

    1) The guy who owned the Yacht has no business dealings with BSO directly or indirectly, as shown in the hearing.

    2) Same guy dontated over 100k to Israel campaign. So it is clear this guy is a generous friend with no discerable agenda other than friendship.

    3) Israel had two roads to travel here, file it as a gift or wirte a check for reimbursment. He wrote the check. If he declared the trip as a gift for a million dollars it would not have meant anything since the yacht owner has no dealings with BSO. As for the route Israel took, there was no clear caselaw or guidelines on how to value the trip, based on the findings of Commission NOW, it is known what the standards are.

    For all the Lamberti fans out there, its is easy to mention Rothstien, but instead may I remind you about the Super Bowl. Al misrepresented to the NFL and FBI that his teenage son was law enforcement so the kid could have an all access pass to the Super Bowl.

  15. Al Lameberti says:

    I am still sheriff. I don’t care what the vote adds up to.

  16. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @10 – Plain Language, you must be the only person in Broward who thinks nobody knows Charlotte Greenbarg! She’s President of the Broward Coalition…



    She’s also the New Times Political Activist Of The Year (2009)…

    You don’t have to agree with Greenbarg’s politics or her stance on every issue — but you better give Charlotte her respect. Because when it comes to activists and political watchdogs in Broward County, there’s not one who is more vigilant than Greenbarg, president of the nonprofit Broward Coalition. She keeps an eye not only on her home city of Hollywood but on the construction department at the Broward County School Board, where she sits on the audit committee. There, Greenbarg holds the often buffoonish officials’ feet to the fire with her no-nonsense questions. She has been at the forefront of ending the “Pay first, ask questions later” mode of business at the district and has given much-needed moral support to School Board auditor Dave Rhodes, a man who has the fortitude to tell the truth in that house of lies and who actually tries to keep waste and corruption down to a low roar. Greenbarg is one of the good ones — and Lord knows Broward needs all of those it can get.

  17. intheknow says:

    Pleeeaze,…the New Times is not a respectable or reliable news source. Just look at the ads to see who their audience is. Greenbarg needs to show her credentials. Just because she is opinionated doesn’t make her an expert. Besides, she blindly follows the Gunzburgers, who got the good Sheriff into this mess in the first place.

  18. Tamarac Voter says:

    Thank you Charlotte for that beautiful bio. Get a life and stop being so negative. You’re becoming a mini McCarthy.

  19. Plain Language says:

    If Ms. Greenbarg is so damned good, then let her run for office. Let her pick up an oar and row instead of constantly throwing shots from the cheap seats. Most of our officials are not corrupt. We have measures in place now to catch them. Meanwhile all this corruption talk is getting in the way of our economy expanding. People’s livelihoods are at stake just to give Greenbarg and others a soapbox to stand on. Corruption is not a good thing but I rarely show respect to anyone who never has anything to say and service on multiple useless boards does not impress me at all.


    Charlotte Greenbarg volunteers her time to make Broward government more accountable. She is a member of the school system’s Audit Committee, so she has picked up the oar and rowed.

    What disturbs me about this comment is that idea that taxpayers should keep their mouths shut and let the “professionals,” i.e., the politicians, run things. It’s our money! The most fundamental American right is to comment on how we are being taxed and how the money is being spent, or did you forget the Boston Tea Party?

    The writer alleges taxpayers shouldn’t worry because we now have “measures in place” to curb corruption. Why then did the Diversity staff of the School Board hand out contracts to insiders and now refuses to reveal how much money they spent on such inside deals? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    The thoroughly-corrupt and mismanaged Post Everglades Authority was abolished largely because of the work of the late Helen Ferris. A woman who was “constantly throwing shots from the cheap seats,” she became active because she disliked what she saw going on at the Port. The wrongdoing she exposed eventually brought down the agency, which was absorbed by the Broward County Commission.

    Taxpayers like Ferris and Greenbarg can make a difference. I wish there were citizens like that in every city hall in Broward. Then government would run better.

  20. Plain Language says:

    Anything positive to say that is

  21. City Activist Robert walsh says:

    The Sheriff here is going to waive his right to a hearing-you best your ass. You got a break here Sheriff-be careful w/ all these money baggers who just can’t wait to give you money, parties, gifts etc. Your distractors(many) are watching every move you make. Its interesting to see(by the comments) that att.Gunzburger took the heat here. Gunzi here did not go on the cruise ship, Israel did. I think Gunzburger did a great job w/ the after math. Gunzburger , I thought did a good job explaining to all of us, and justifying the boating debacle very well. I think the Sheriff needs to concentrate more on day to day duties at the BSO instead of smoozing w/ the county’s who’s who. Esp. start w/ this Pompano beach unit. They stink. To many leftovers from Pompano Beach police dept. I mean you guys that were/ Pompano that transferred over-you need to go. Come on. How can a deputy over fifty (plus), overweight, out of shape etc. perform the duties of a deputy. Yes, the Sheriff here needs to clean house here in pompano. Again this section of BSO -stinks. When is the last time some of these deputies in Pompano passed an agility test, anything related to physical fitness . Think this is all “Bs” -then get on the scale. Oh yeah, I had to call the police in Pompano. Their finest show up(joke). It look like a summer retreat for AARP, on “weight watchers..Then This deputy states to me, I hope the guy next door kicks your ass. To my reply-remember that statement when you get a call that his head was bashed in w/ a baseball bat or anything else I use to defend myself. Unreal….

  22. Abolish the BOCC says:

    The thoroughly-corrupt and mismanaged Post Everglades Authority was abolished largely because of the work of the late Helen Ferris. A woman who was “constantly throwing shots from the cheap seats,” she became active because she disliked what she saw going on at the Port. The wrongdoing she exposed eventually brought down the agency, which was absorbed by the Broward County Commission.

    From one thoroughly corrupt organization to another. We, the taxpayers, just cannot win.

  23. Average Joe citizen says:

    That was commendable, honest and fair I appreciate everything you said to Charlotte and Helen may she rest in peace.

    Charlotte keep up the good work sounds like Mr. Positive has something to hide and/or you are striking a nerve.

    Nice defense mechanism (plain). Your comments make me as a voter and a taxpayer want to pay a bit more attention to what Charlotte has to say.
    I prefer a soap box than a grandstander holding office saying look at me and how wonderful of a job I’m doing and how I am so important.
    Most politicians start off as people like Charlotte and got elected by creating waves.
    They run for office and then they change. Then they like the paycheck, the attention, or the possibilities of getting bigger or more important or more grandiose.
    But people like Charlotte who sit in the cheap seats as you call it, they don’t need any of that. They just want to make things better.

    As an average citizen I am listening and I am hearing you. As an average citizen I like to share my views which are similar to yours Charlotte with people who don’t have the time to stay informed. I think they call it a grassroots effort.

    So you are valuable and what you do is valuable. So thank you, Charlotte.

  24. Real Deal says:

    Buddy all that is true and for all we know Ms. Greenbarg is a great citizen certainly it looks that way. Your points are of course well taken. There is also something to be said about chronic cynicism. It does not do. All the volunteer hours in the world do not entitle one to being a chronic cynic. I would imagine that is the other side being stated here and it is also a valid point.