Transition of power may be rocky for sheriff-elect

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter

After a brutal race, two men who don't like each other at all -- outgoing Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti and Sheriff-Elect Scott Israel -- are going to have to work together to switch the reins at an agency that has 6,300 employees and a budget of about $700 million.

It's a complicated process and will surely be contentious. Understand, it's not only the sheriff who is losing his job, so will his command staff. Folks like Undersheriff Tom Wheeler, Director of External Affairs Art Santucci, Col. Wiley Thompson, Fire Chief Neal DeJesus and several others will be replaced. 

In the video above, you can see one of the men expected to be among Israel's own inner circle. It's Russell Diperna, the sheriff-elect's right-hand man during the campaign and a former BSO deputy himself.

For Diperna, Israel's election was cathartic and vindicating. He was fired from BSO four years ago after he began supporting Israel. He has always said his firing -- for allegedly interfering with an investigation -- was politically motivated and orchestrated by Lamberti's former executive assistant, Lt. David Benjamin, who remains employed at the sheriff's office (for now) despite his well-publicized ties to Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.

Who else will be joining Israel? It is heavily rumored that Jerry Speziale, the number two man the New York Port Authority Police Department, is slated as undersheriff. Attorney Ron Gunzburger, who orchestrated much of Israel's campaign, confirmed he is in talks for a job but doesn't know if he'll take one. The son of Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger, he is currently employed by Property Appraiser Lori Parrish and became involved in trying to defeat Lamberti as a result of what he says was a politically motivated investigation of his mother by BSO's corruption unit. Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo was a big supporter of Israel as well and may be joining the team as well. 

I'm going to update this post as I hear both names, both on those who will be on the way out and those possibly on the way into power at BSO.

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