FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Fourteen months after being appointed as Broward Sheriff, Gregory Tony has found himself enveloped in perhaps the biggest controversy of his tenure.
All over a routine police form he filled out earlier this year, on which he denied ever having a criminal record sealed or expunged. Tony shot and killed a man when he was just 14. The case was eventually ruled self-defense in the juvenile court system, where records are kept private.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has said it will look into the matter, although they have not spoken of an official investigation.
Tony’s opponents in the election for Broward Sheriff later this year say this needs to be held against him.
“I think it’s just facts. The fact is that Sheriff Tony lied on his application,” said fellow Democratic candidate Al Pollock.
Pollock, a retired Broward Sheriff’s Office colonel, is among 11 candidates in the race for sheriff. He and other candidates believe that the way Tony responded on that official FDLE document is a criminal offense.
“This has nothing to do with race or politics — we’re talking facts here,” Pollock said.
Willie Jones, another Democratic candidate, said: “You must fill out the questions correctly, and that’s because of the state statue. Now, I don’t want to politicize what he did — but he didn’t do it correctly.”
Broward voters will begin to have their say during the Democratic primary election on Aug. 18.
Tony and former Broward Sheriff Scott Israel have been considered the leading candidates, but the fact that both have been the subject of no-confidence votes by their deputies raises the possibility that another candidate could emerge.
Tony, who was appointed to his post by Gov. Ron DeSantis when Israel was removed after the Parkland massacre, declined an on-camera interview Thursday. But a new statement from his campaign maintains that “Sheriff Tony filled out the form correctly. The FDLE form specifically asked whether he ever had a criminal record sealed or expunged. The Sheriff never had a criminal record.”
Israel, reached by phone Thursday, declined to comment on the matter of Tony’s FDLE form.
But the situation gives momentum for the other veteran officers vying for the sheriff’s seat to shape their message.
“We cannot determine what happened in the past, but we can determine what’s going to happen in the future for our residents,” Democratic candidate Santiago Vazquez Jr. said. “Is the next sheriff going to provide for our community? Is the next sheriff going to be better than the issues than we have now?”