Plantation’s Petrocelli And The Stewardess: A Story From His Past

They are the jobs that Plantation Commissioner Rico Petrocelli leaves out of his resume when on the campaign trial.

Petrocelli was a cop in west Broward on-and-off for three years.  He hopped from department to department like a rabbit being chased by a fox.

But his departure from his last cop job may leave unanswered questions for voters. 

He quit the Hacienda Village Police on July 15, 1977 after a lawyer accused him of improper conduct towards an airline stewardess.  The allegations include the stewardess being subjected to two unnecessary body searches while she was wearing a bikini.

He is the second candidate in the March 10 election to have been accused of inappropriate actions with females while employed at the Hacienda Village Police.

Sunrise Commissioner Don Rosen, who is running for re-election, was fired from Hacienda Village after being accused of three incidents of misconduct with women.  These include asking for sex from a woman he had stopped for a ticket.

In Petrocelli’s case, Florida Department of Law Enforcement records obtained by, indicate he was a police officer:

  • June, 1974 to April 1975 in Sunrise.
  • June, 1975 to October, 1975 in Hacienda Village.
  • November 1975 to February, 1976 in Tamarac.
  • April 1976 to July 1977 in Hacienda Village, again.

The FDLE records do not give a reason why he left the jobs, saying only he had quit.

It is his last stint in Hacienda Village that is the most interesting.

Reacting to a tip from his relatives, I requested his personnel file from the Hacienda Village Police.  The department was taken over by Davie in the 1980s, but the records still reside in a storage warehouse.

For $7.95, I found out about the incident that was swirling around Petrocelli when he left Hacienda Village.

On June 20, 1977 lawyer Arnold Saphirstein wrote Chief Bud Shaw of the Hacienda Village Police.

The three-page letter accused Petrocelli of stopping a driver in front of her Arrowhead condominium.

The driver was a woman who was described in the letter as “an airline stewardess of long standing.  She is a woman of good figure and young age and was coming from a yacht party at Marina Bay, and recalled being dressed only in the bikini and slight towel.

“Her person was searched.  She was taken to a trailer which she believed was the location of the Hacienda Village Police, whereupon she was again searched…at no time was a policewoman called to assist, the letter alleged.

She was kept in the trailer into the night.

“The officer had made innuendos during the course of the night, to wit the manner in which (she) could have the proceedings go bye-bye. He was rude and adamant, as she recalls.  He had also eluded that if she was not extremely cooperative that she would be found and/or arrested on drug charges.

Saphirstein demanded “an investigation into the facts as purported by Officer Petrocelli.”

Petrocelli’s  personnel file contains another Saphirstein letter written about a month later, July 25, 1977:

“Our thanks to yourself and your city for listening to our complaint versus Lt. Petrocelli, and for taking an open view of the situation which eventually led to Mr. Petrocelli’s resignation from your police force and the dropping of all charges against my client.

Petrocelli’s handwritten resignation of July 11, 1977 is in the file:

“I hereby resign from active duty due to personnel reasons and it will also give me time to adjust my mind in reference to the shooting incident on 7-13-77.  This resignation is being made of my own free will and I would like to thank you for all your cooperation in the post.

His resignation letter is the only mention of a “shooting incident in the file.

To be fair, Petrocelli has one commendation in the file about his help in finding a missing 8-year-old.  He has one demerit for having an accident in a police car.

He was promoted from patrol officer to Lieutenant during his 15 months with the Hacienda Village force.

Petrocelli’s re-election is already a referendum on his character.  He is under investigation by two state agencies for soliciting money to the city athletic program, taking the money and using it for a personal party.

Now there are these new allegations from his past.

He owes it to voters to come clean.  I offer him to explain his side of the story.

33 Responses to “Plantation’s Petrocelli And The Stewardess: A Story From His Past”

  1. Kevin T says:

    Consider the source for the complaint – a now discredited and disbarred lawyer

    Tag to Print 1 1. Florida Bar v. Saphirstein,
    581 So.2d 1311 (Table), Fla., May 02, 1991 (NO. 75,111, 74,604)

    …is referenced in the Southern Reporter in a table captioned ‘Florida Decisions Without Published Opinions.’) Supreme Court of Florida. The Florida Bar v. Saphirstein (Arnold) NOS. 74,604, 75,111 MAY 02, 1991 Disbarment approved…….


    Tag to Print 2 2. The Florida Bar v. Saphirstein,
    456 So.2d 893, Fla., September 27, 1984 (NO. 65,404)

    … Supreme Court of Florida. THE FLORIDA BAR, Complainant, v. Arnold SAPHIRSTEIN, Respondent. No. 65404. Sept. 27, 1984. Original Proceeding-The Florida Bar. John F. Harkness, Jr., Executive Director, John A. Boggs……


    Tag to Print 3 3. The Florida Bar v. Saphirstein,
    376 So.2d 7, Fla., October 11, 1979 (NO. 55563)

    … Supreme Court of Florida. THE FLORIDA BAR, Complainant, v. Arnold SAPHIRSTEIN, Respondent. No. 55563. Oct. 11, 1979. In an attorney disciplinary proceeding, the Supreme Court held that attempting to influence a……

    What possible reason would Saphirstein have to make up a story about Petrocelli?
    Bottom line: Petrocelli quit under fire. Why did he quit?
    The fact that the lawyer is flawed does not make the allegation any less real. Saphirstein’s problems with the Bar had nothing to do with this incident. Cases are build all the time on testimony of criminals and this lawyer’s e-mail about Petrocelli was about something not related to his disbarment years later.
    You can attack the messenger –the lawyer in this case. The message remains unchanged — Petrocelli is a horrible candidate.
    How come Petrocelli couldn’t hold a job as a police officer, skipping around from job to job? How come there are these allegation about his work in Hacienda Village? How come he is connected with a fraud at Plantation Athletic League which is under investigation by two state agencies?
    How come his campaign is funded by developers and lobbyists who want to turn Plantation into downtown Fort Lauderdale?

  2. Kevin T says:

    If memory serves me, he had a felony conviction for possession of cocaine and a charge of stealing trust money.

  3. Concerned says:

    Buddy, whats up? To Borrow a line from the Godfather” Rico did this, Rico did that , so I said sure!”Why not???

    This attorney Saperstein is as bad as Tom Jimenz who has been convicted just last month and he is the guy who stole PAL records , lied and went to the Mayor.
    Almost as bad as the unnamed source on the car saleman deal.

    How about Pete Tingom? Can we get a little balance ? Just a little.

  4. Plantation Voter says:

    I was a PAL mom who had two children in PAL. When I went to the games, Rico was always coming up to me, putting his hands on me. He’s a sleeze and I totally believe everything he is accused of in this report. Thank you for your investigative work.

  5. Dude says:

    Buddy , Diane Bendekovic who added the name Veltri when she ran for office and Pete Tingom were lifelong Republicans who both became Democrats just prior to running . Now thats integrity!!!

    Question for you and I hope you dont edit.

    If you are such a great reporter why did you leave the Sun Sentinel and does your wife work for the school board ?

    Did you quit under fire ? What are the real facts as to why you left ? Does your wife know Pete ?

    How does it feel ?

    While I am on a roll , maybe ask Tom Armstrong , Mayors wife, why the Town mall burned down or Tom Bendekovic -Veltri – Bendekovic why he almost killed someone back in the day and it got covered up and cost the city a ton of money or how many times he has left his wife or ask Pat Roberts why one of his own men got killed at the college checking underage drinking or how he rode his son to the White House when the kid he ” saved ” was wearing a life jacket !!!

    Well there you go I must be qualified to have my own blog as I can attest that all of the above are true and believe me because I have said so !!!

    Give me a break! Also I see you have the abilty to edit and comment on your website and you only comment when someone disagrees with you . Lets see how we do on this one !!

  6. Dude says:

    I thank you , you did not edit or comment.

  7. Dude says:

    So if Rico is in the hands of the developers I suggest any and all pull all contributions for the city elections for the last 10 years in fact all of the citys.and State elections . Public Record .Diane Veltri Bendekovic Smith has the same list . Ron Jacobs , Bruce Edwards, the Mayor , Dr . Bob , Jerry Fadgen , Sharon Uria , all the same .

    Come one Buddy , thats life in the big city!!

  8. Plantation Truth says:

    I have been reading these posts about Mr Petrocelli for weeks and are amazed at how one sided they are….
    Lets look at the other candidates..
    Pete Tingom…anyone ever ask WHY he was asked to leave Plantation High and got moved to another job at the School Board? Could it be it had to do with poor job performance and something to do with the football team
    Everyone bashes Rico because he uses a different first name…well heres a news flash…so does Frankie Diane Veltri Bendekovic…yes thats right…her REAL first name is Frankie…not that its a big deal
    As far as the police “allegations”…talk to any cop, they are accused from time to time with false accusations….
    At least he had the balls to pin on a badge….

  9. PAL Mom says:

    Mr. Petrocelli has lived his life as a liar. Mr. Nevins, you didn’t even mention how he changed his name from Frances Petrocelli to Rico Petrocelli to live off the famous baseball player’s fame. He never bothered to make it legal since his house is still under he Frances name. Making improper advances on women is just the first in a long career of lying, cheating and trying to live off the public. Petrocelli is a dirt bag.

  10. Watchful says:

    Of course it’s not a sin to change jobs, but what is the longest job Petrocelli ever held? Hasn’t he recently been let go from Baer’s furniture? Sounds like he just can’t stay on task. I remember years ago he couldn’t get hired for the position of the city’s athletic director. He wasn’t good enough to run the pick up leagues, so he decided to do the volunteer jobs. (you know…the ones that collect lots of money and are not watched so stringently)

  11. Dude says:

    PAL MOM – Its is Uncle , his real Uncle, has been Rico since he was a kid . Just a fact.

    Watchful- Long time at Baers , maybe you missed what is happening with the economy, no one is buying furniture . Call Bobby Baer and ask for the truth.

    City Athletic Director – one name Jim Romano , hates Rico . thats also a fact.

    Same Jim Romano who cannot read the PAL contract and who had numerous affairs.

  12. old planatation says:

    dude you sound like a retard or is your name Bill Bezdek? what do people like Bill, Rico, Bob Levy,Ralph and Gloria Merritt,Ellen Gibbs all have in common? they are just strange people who somehow gravitate to community roles while mainstream carries this country and wonder how the idiots get elected or present themselves as leaders (Betty Cobb)you want to stop these types vote march 10. p.s. Ralph we know it is your goal to have a weak group on council so you can always feel a little more important……..but you will never be remembered as a good guy… except by Bill Bezdek(dude)

  13. KCK says:

    “old planatation says:
    March 6th, 2009 at 4:46 am ”


    I put a lot of credibility to the words of someone whom can’t even spell the name of the city they supposedly live in.

  14. Watchful says:

    Hey Dude:
    Isn’t there an incident report in which Rico pushed Jim Romano in the chest and said “you work for me?”
    I think the hatred is more from Rico.
    Buddy, why don’t you check that out with the Plantation PD? or will that get lost because they endorse him.
    Also,Dude do not attack me. I’m just trying to sort things out. again, my question is how long is the longest that he worked at a place. Is the longest job on his ressume his job at Baers? That’s all I want to know. If he was such an outstanding employee for the company for many years why would they let him go? Oh, they must have hated him too like Jim Romano, that big brute “BOO HOO”

  15. old planatation says:

    sorry for the spelling KCK guess when you get to be an old lady like myself you tend to make more of those than one would like. was my view not right to you? are you saying I am not credible because of a letter being left out? I have watch our town change the are no more mayor Veltri left to watch out for us. God help us

  16. The Real Plantation Truth says:

    Dear Plantation Truth (and I use that term loosely). If you are going to use truth as your pen name….then you should speak it! As for Mr. Tingom and why he left Plantation High? Why don’t you go to and look up the FCAT grades for Plantation High? Or isn’t that truthful enough for you? Mr. Tingom was principal at PHS through 2004. The FCAT grade was maintained at C through the end of his tenure there. The very next year, the grade goes to a D. This is, as you say, “poor job performance”? He was well respected by both the parents and teachers there. There were political reasons he was removed. Don’t blast a man if you don’t have the facts….which you obviously don’t!!! As for Mr. Petrocelli? Ask any rec. coach over the past 6 or 7 years which rec league was run the worst??…The majority would say Biddy Basketball. Every other league (except soccer which was a very organized league and has since joined suit) had an open draft where every coach got to pick his or her team…. Not Mr. Petrocelli’s league… He handed you your team that he had hand picked himself. It was full of eraser marks and white out. The strange FACT about this was that his son was on a team in the league….coached by Rico…and just happened to have BY FAR the best players on it. And wouldn’t you know it?… That team happened to win the league! Another example of the “behind the scene”…”underhanded” way he likes to operate. His basketball league was the worst run, most crooked league running in PAL. So “Plantation Truth”…you seem to have your FACTS confused. I have refrained from responding in this blog, but when someone insinuates something that is totally false, I have no choice but to respond. Don’t try to slander a respected, honorable man just to try and make another man look better. Shame on you!

  17. KCK says:

    To old planatation:

    I find it interesting that you want to accuse Merritt of wanting to control a “weak board” or failing to mention Armstrong and Bendekovic when referring to “they are just strange people who somehow gravitate to community roles”.

    No one will be happier than me when we can finally get rid of Armstrong, even then it won’t much matter because we will still have to pay for her and hubby anyway.

    As for Bendekovic, suddenly she has found her political calling and thinks adding Veltri to her name will give her the heir to the throne.

    Why do I mention these two? Well because they are fully throwing around what political weight they think they have by trying to slowly control the council. They want Petrocelli gone and they want their handpicked puppet(Tingom) in his place. Unfortunate for them, they missed the chance with Levy because of some potential bad info given to his opponent.

  18. old planatation says:

    OK include them they are just a little better than the others I guess. I am planning on voting for Jim Davis. not much watching out for tax payers since Jacobs and Edwards left. I think Sharon Uria tries but not much help from the others. Rico votes not to raise taxes but votes for everything when it counts during the year. kind of like Fadgen used to do a paper tax watchdog all talk no bite.

  19. old plantation says:

    oh I spelled it right thanks KC never would have caught that one

  20. Watchful says:

    Why would anyone vote for Davis?
    Can we talk about investigations?
    How about the time he took the state owned tractor home to his kids house to pull out a tree stump and then when asked if he did so lied about it. THEN when under oath he finally came clean. The state did not drop the ethics charges. They only decided not to persue them any further to save money. Mr. Davis said he only drove the tractor down the street to his son’s house. Well, I guess that’s true,he only went down Broward Blvd to Melaleuca Isles Only a mile or two away. But hey, he’s going to cut taxes. Let’s just cut taxes. That will fix everything. Mr. Davis is a good Christian. I guess though that he forgot thou shalt not lie. But he’s going to cut taxes. So it doesn’t matter if he lies.

  21. Plantation Truth says:

    To The “Real” Plantation Truth
    So….expound…what was this “political” reason he was removed.
    Wow, that weird, you justify his removal as a political action that was not justifiable but all the accusations about Rico stink of political motivation…..
    By the way…in your rebuttal, you failed to mention anything about the football angle with Mr. Tingom….ohhh thats right….
    By the way…Im not trying to slander, just be forthright and equal when reporting about all the candidates
    But…as we all know, this blog is only read by disgruntled people…
    I myself read it for the pure comic value….just what it is…a comic
    I thought journalism was supposed to report both sides fairly…They should cnage the name of this blog to

  22. Long time Plantation says:

    In response to Plantation Truth: I spoke to Coach Don Gatewood who was the athletic director at Plantation High School while Mr. Tingom was Principal there and he said that Mr. Tingom leaving Plantation High School had nothing whatsoever to do with the Football Program and he also pointed out there winning record under his tenor. In addition, Coach Frank Hepler who was the head football coach at Plantation who now lives in Georgia, his brother is supporting Mr. Tingom.

  23. Long time Plantation says:

    I am sorry for my spelling mistake (my typing got ahead of me) it is tenure not tenor

  24. The Truth says:

    Come on people…..This is politically motivated.

    Pete Tingom was moved from the high school for poor performance. His big claim to fame in every candidate’s forum is that he was a cub scout leader. How does that qualify him for anything? Yes, there is a starting point in every person’s political career, but he has no clue as to the issues facing businesses, homeowner’s in crisis or who is in charge of the NSP program, which he totally misquoted, or any of the other major issues which the City faces, including some huge budget and pension issues. If you listen to his responses at the forums, and if you were to close your eyes, you would swear the words came out of the Mayor’s lips. His responses have been pre-prepared and he can obviously memorize. He is wanted on this City Council so that his vote can be manipulated, which he has shown so far that he can be manupulated, since he doesn’t understand the issues. He is not qualified to bring anything to this table, and most certainly not in this economy.

    As to Jim Davis, his funding has been small because people are fearful of the retribution they will face if their name is seen on his campaign report. Shame on us. But, can you blame them? Look at what has been done behind the scenes with Rico. Despite this, Jim continues to march forward for what he believes.

    Whatever Rico did or didn’t do at age 20 (and who doesn’t have a glass house at age 20) he and his family have given a lot of time and done a lot of good for the City, many of you having benefited. Nothing was found wrong in the PAL audit other than suggestions that a full time bookkeeper, rather than using occassional parent volunteers, didn’t resolve.

    The adage ‘No good deed goes unpunished’ certainly seems to be applicable.

    Hats off to Jim and Rico for taking the high road in this election and holding their heads high!

    People, until you walk in these shoes, you need to be very careful about what you think you know to be the truth and repeat what may, in fact, be lies!

  25. Plantation Truth says:

    I whole heartadely agree with Truth
    Dont get me wrong, I respect Mr. Tingom for his educational and civic accomplishments. But the glaring fact remains that he is a HAND PICKED lackey of Armstrong so she doesnt have anyone questioning her actions or motives on the dias.
    My big question for everyone is, if on March 10th, Rico prevails, in the future he is found not giulty of any crimnal wrongdoing, then what??????
    I know what….it will be 2011 and it will be a free for all for the Mayors job when she retires and 2-3 council seats are up for grabs…Cant wait!

  26. watchful says:

    The Truth:
    you obviously don’t know Pete Tingom. I was at two of the forums and he barely mentioned the boy scout role. Did you bother to listen to him? He mentioned budget, budget, budget. Do you have any idea what a principal has to do to maintain a quality education given the monies they are given? Principals are not in charge of getting the money, they are just responsible for pulling a program out of thin air given the pittiful money that the county/state gives them. He did a damn good job.
    As far as Jim Davis…I don’t think people are afraid of retribution. Give me a break. They never have been before. People just aren’t giving him money. It’s that simple. You usually give money to someone you BELIEVE in or someone you feel obligated to or someone you want to gain favor from. Then there are the people that give to both parties because they are the suck ups. You decide why nobody gave to Jim Davis.

  27. The Truth says:

    I have spoken to Pete Tingom and he is well spoken, but he is not well informed as to the City’s issues. They are 2 different things.

    I was at the forums and Pete mentioned his cub scout role at every forum. Yes, he did mention the City budget, but didn’t back it up with anything specific. His comments were all generalities. If he was so concerned with the budget, where was he during the City’s public hearings on the budgets, asking for answers when the Mayor gave the employees a 2.5% raise every 6 months, which equals a little more than a 5% raise for the 10th year straight, in this economy! The City’s budget deficit was due entirely to their raise. He sat in the back of the room – silent. He certainly didn’t represent the best interest of the City then.

    He didn’t object when the city sought to put a concrete parking lot under contract for over $3 million – again, despite the fact that there was a budget deficit. He said nothing at the Council meeting.

    The police have a DROP program which came before the council last week – a huge issue – did he say anything – again, NO!

    The City is facing some huge pension issues next year – does he know about this?


    By your own admission, he was in charge of the high school’s budget and he was removed from Plantation High for poor performance. Let’s pull his personnel records.

    If you don’t think people believe in retribution, then you live in your own la-la land and you should keep drinking that water. It does exist.

  28. watchful says:

    Didn’t Plantation High get worse FCAT scores after he left?
    Didn’t the actuaries state that the drop program for the police was a wash and there was no difference in monies? Isn’t that when Chief Massey said to Sharon Uria, that he would generate movement in the department by leaving?
    I think an EDUCATED person can step right into the City Council, Heck and UNEDUCATED one did last time. Imagine what someone with some ecucation and experience can do this time.
    Come on. You can’t even closely compare both candidates. Rico’s experience before he fell into the council position was the PAL. Pete is certainly a more qualified person than Rico was four years ago. Rico is just now getting a grasp on things.

  29. The Truth says:

    The bottom line is that the totality of Tingom’s performance warranted his removal from the school.

    If there was no difference in monies, then why were other officers previously refused the same request?

    Massey had already given his notice to the Mayor well in advance of the Council meeting.

    Tingom does NOT have the type of experience that this City needs.

    And, judging from all the last minute behind the scenes manipulations done for him it is obvious his backers have stooped to some new City political lows to try to get him in because his qualifications don’t stand on their own.

  30. The Real Plantation Truth says:

    The truth…Webster defines this as conformity to fact or actuality. “Truth”, where are you getting your information on Mr. Tingom? You haven’t given one fact about his performance as principal at Plantation High, only your 2-bit opinion…over and over again. You act like you were the one evaluating his job performance, yet you never back it with anything but unjustified slander.

    These are the facts:

    Fact: One man admittedly threw a party and used city funds to do so. The other man did not.

    Fact:One man is under investigation by the State of Florida for ethics violations. The other man is not.

    Fact: One man was at every rec. basketball registration handing out his “Rico Card” with your carbon copy of registration, and actually told one parent, “If you ever get pulled over by the police, just show them this”… while the other man was at the majority of extracurricular events at his school…be it sports, drama, band, chorus, or football.

    Fact: One does not have a strong educational background, while the other man has a Master’s Degree

    Fact: One man actually coached, taught, and was an Asst. Principal, and Principal at Plantation High School….I’d like to know the years Mr. Petrocelli was a baseball and basketball coach at Plantation High as it states on his resume’.

    Fact: One man ran a school the size of a small city for 5 years, and did an outstanding job IN ALL AREAS as well as maintain the school’s FCAT grade at a C during a time many similar schools were a D (please see for verification) while another man was asked to step down as director of a rec. league which was known to have many shady issues as discussed in my previous post.

    As for addressing the football issue….what football issue?? There was none.

    As for him not speaking up at these previous meetings? The last I checked, he’s not a councilman….YET!!! Hopefully this will change in 2 days.

    So I ask any voter who has read this blog…who is the better man? Don’t listen to “The Truth” and his or her facts made up to deceive…wait a minute…that’s the definition of fabrication. To the readers of this blog who are voters and residents of Plantation, go out and vote for integrity and honesty. Let’s vote out the evils of our local government and vote in people of strong ethics and integrity.

  31. watchful says:


  32. Plantation Truth says:

    “Let’s vote out the evils of our local government and vote in people of strong ethics and integrity.”

    Well said….but I didnt know Mayor Armstrong was up for re-election….LOL….Might as well as toss out all of her minions and lackeys at city hall too!!!!

  33. Pissed off in Plantation says:

    so I guess any pissed off family member could get together with you and start spitting out false accusations because they are jealous and you will post it like it is a fact. I cannot wait for karma to come back around! this should be fun.