BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Local 10 investigative reporter Bob Norman has learned one of the most controversial and politically-connected employees in Broward Sheriff Scott Israel's inner circle has resigned, as Norman was asking tough questions about her qualifications for the job.
"They're not political folks, they're people I've met in politics," said Israel.
When Israel was asked last year about his hiring of Dianne Thorne as his personal scheduler it raised some eyebrows. While Israel is a converted Democrat, Thorne has worked as a controversial Republican political operative who'd founded a dubious Tea Party Group in Miami.
The hire appeared to be political payback to Thorne's previous long-time boss, and self-proclaimed GOP hit man Roger Stone. Stone is a former dirty trickster for Richard Nixon who played a key role in Israel's election. Israel denied it was payback on the taxpayers' dime.
"Roger Stone, who he knows or what he knows, has nothing to do with who we hire," said Israel.
Now we've learned that the $68,000-a-year Thorne, who'd been promoted to become an assistant to Israel's chief of staff, has abruptly resigned citing a new opportunity in the private sector.
But there's more to the story. Thorne's resignation coincides with Norman's investigation of her BSO application.
Norman learned that Thorne claimed to have a bachelor's degree, which is required under the job description, from a school in Australia. But she couldn't provide any proof of it, claiming in an email that the school had shut down.
Former BSO commander and frequent Israel critic Sam Frusterio said more investigation should have been done.
"Even if the college doesn't exist anymore, they still have a history of the college," said Frusterio.
Norman learned that Penola Catholic College had retained some of its records, but privacy laws prevented them from providing any records on Thorne.
The Broward Sheriff's Office and the sheriff didn't respond Thursday to Norman's questions regarding Thorne, whose official last day at BSO is July 11.