Despite new photos, BSO not taking additional action after deputy used boat, taxpayer-bought gas for personal use

New pictures, new allegations and shocking new details following a Local 10 News investigation, but so far, no new action against a Broward Sheriff’s Deputy accused of using a BSO boat for personal use.

BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – There are new pictures, new allegations and shocking new details following a Local 10 News investigation, but so far, there is no new action against a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy accused of using a BSO boat for personal use.

That deputy is accused of using the taxpayer-bought boat and gas for years, and new pictures also show a current BSO captain appears to have allowed it to happen.

Local 10 News’ Jeff Weinsier first broke the story in May, and now has pictures that include allegations of alcohol onboard.

The 23-foot Intrepid is supposed to be used for undercover operations and training, but inside BSO’s marine unit it was dubbed as, “the morale boat.”

Using it was a privilege for working in the unit, like a take-home vehicle.

The problem is that ranking supervisors outside the unit had no idea a deputy was using it off-duty for pleasure, at taxpayer’s expense.

New pictures show, and Local 10 News has confirmed, there was alcohol on board in the hands of non-BSO employees.

In one picture, a civilian can be seen at the helm, while in picture after picture, there are teens on board.

There was also a fishing trip that the vessel was used for.

The new pictures are ones that internal affairs didn’t have in late 2021 when they first investigated allegations that Deputy Jay Dunning, a 31-year veteran and 20-year member of the marine unit, was using the boat this way while off duty.

In one picture taken back in 2019, Dunning had the boat tied to another in Boca Lake, outside of Broward County.

Turns out, the other boat in the photo belonged to Dunning’s then-supervisor on the marine unit, Efrain Torres, who is now a BSO captain.

The original investigation was initiated after a parent notified Local 10 News and BSO about the boat’s usage.

“My daughter and many other girls from her class have been going boating with the Dunning family for years,” the parent told Local 10 News. “We always assumed it was a family boat. As a taxpayer, it’s not OK. Who is footing the bill for this? Who is paying for the gas for these outings? Who would be stuck with the liability if there were an accident?”

As part of the first investigation, Dunning was never questioned, was allowed to “admit it and move on,” received a written reprimand and remained on marine unit.

After Local 10 News’ story in May, we were lead to the new pictures on social media.

A new investigation was launched and some more statements were taken.

Major Scott Champagne, who previously supervised the unit said, “No reason or exceptions why a deputy would have the use of a marine unit boat for personal/recreational use, off duty.”

Lt. David Fernandez, who supervised the unit from January 2018 until August 2021, testified he not aware of the practice or origin.

And this time, Dunning was questioned. He claimed the practice began about 12 years ago under a now-retired Sgt. Joseph Capua and said he had authorization from sergeants every time he used the boat.

Dunning admitted gas was purchased with a fuel card assigned to the boat, meaning it was bought with taxpayer money.

When shown a picture of alcohol on board, Dunning called it very surprising and upsetting to see.

As for now-Captain Torres, whose personal boat was tied to the BSO boat out of the county with Dunning, he had no comment when asked about the boat use by Weinsier.

In a sworn statement, Torres admitted to giving Dunning permission to use the boat. He called it a lapse in judgment and said considering how the incident has now reflected on BSO, he would have put an end to the practice during his time on the marine unit.

Robert Drago is a retired BSO lieutenant colonel. He spent 38 years in law enforcement and was part of the marine unit in the 1980s.

“This is totally embarrassing,” Drago said.

Dr. Andrew Scott has a doctorate in criminal justice. He has been in law enforcement for 44 years and is the former Boca Raton police chief.

“A morale boat? It’s laughable,” said Scott.

“The failure was at the supervisory level, as each sergeant came in, they didn’t stop this inappropriate behavior from the prior sergeant,” said Drago. “They were not well trained enough to recognize that this is inappropriate behavior and violated policies.”

“If there was a staff inspection that was done to this particular unit, this may have come out long before it came to your attention and maybe the kibosh would have been put on it,” said Scott.

Both are concerned that taxpayers had to foot the bill for Dunning’s personal outings.

“I would see that the county got reimbursed,” said Drago.

“That’s potential theft or misuse or misallocation of funds of the county,” said Scott. “At the minimum, the officer should be obligated to pay back the cost of the fuel.”

But despite the new pictures and interviews, a new report said no new significant information was found.

As far as the Sheriff’s Office is concerned, it’s case closed. No new disciplinary action will be taken for Dunning or for others involved.

“I believe new significant information was found that was not in the initial investigation and it is up to the command staff to look at that and say, ‘What else are we finding here and how do we want to address that?’” said Drago. “In this case, leadership failed.”

There are new procedures in place.

The use of an unassigned marine patrol boat is now logged out by name, date, engine hours and purpose.

Dunning remains on the marine unit and has not and will not have to pay Broward taxpayers back for any of the gas he used with family and friends -- a decision made by internal affairs.

There has been no specific comment from the sheriff.

Read the full sworn statements from Dunning and Torres below:

About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.