PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – An outside firm hired to investigate a Pembroke Park commissioner — who was once the town’s mayor — found the official engaged in an extensive series of “threatening, humiliating, or intimidating behaviors,” according to a report obtained by Local 10 News on Friday.
The investigative report into Commissioner and ex-Mayor Geoffrey Jacobs, dated Tuesday, was conducted and compiled by Fort Lauderdale attorney Tonja Haddad, at the request of the town commission, which said it wanted to investigate accusations that Jacobs created a “hostile work environment.”
Jacobs’ fellow commissioners voted to censure him in June.
Haddad’s 17-page report found that interviews with 13 witnesses, coupled with documentary and video evidence, which included electronic messages and Jacobs’ behavior on social media, “revealed a consistent narrative” regarding Jacobs’ conduct.
The report stated there is a “prevalent fear” of Jacobs and his behavior, “creating what the employees and his colleagues have described as a hostile, volatile, toxic workplace.”
“Specific examples include, but are not limited to, the following: foul and inappropriate language; racial and ethnic slurs; antisemitic, chauvinistic, homophobic, misogynistic, demeaning, and degrading comments; bullying; threatening harm; abuse/misuse of power; and retaliation by way of intimidation and attack against anyone who disagrees with him, including public humiliation and the threat of termination,” the report states.
Read the full report:
Jacobs sent a “homophobic” and “misogynistic” video to former Town Attorney Melissa Anderson, who is openly gay, the report states.
The report says that in the video, a masculine lesbian asks a bouncer what makes him angry about masculine women, and his response was the ability to beat them up.
A copy of the video was also sent to the town manager with Jacobs writing, “This is your attorney.” When encouraged to apologize, he said he would do so when hell freezes over and told Anderson to “stay the f--- away” from him.
The town provided text messages where Jacobs referred to Anderson as a “f---ing c---.” The report says he referred to Anderson as a “c---” to the town manager and IT director as well. Anderson later resigned.
The report calls text messages and emails by Jacobs to the town clerk as “extensive and compelling.”
In writing to the clerk, the report says Jacobs refers to two male commissioners as the “two idiots” and “incompetent pieces of s--t,” and “overpaid, non-working a--holes.”
The report states that Jacobs “disturbingly states that Commissioner (William) Hodgkins ‘needs to die.’”
The town clerk testified he once told her to “get her head out of her a--”, yelled “f--- you” at her, and called her a “rat.”
HR Director Babette Friedman testified Jacobs called her a “Nazi,” and that employees have come into her office crying over Jacobs’ behavior.
Friedman is “of Jewish descent and is a descendant of Holocaust survivors,” the report states. She said in the last year and a half, she has received six formal complaints against Jacobs.
When she tried to address issues with him, Friedman said Jacobs threatened her job and tried to have her fired.
Current Mayor Ashira Mohammed testified Jacobs referenced one female employee as a “black b----.”
Jacobs refused to be interviewed or participate in the investigation. At least three employees plan to file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
His attorney, Michael Pizzi, dismissed the report, describing it as a “taxpayer-funded investigation” conducted by his “political opponents.”
“Geoffrey Jacobs has never been found guilty by the (Broward) Inspector General or an independent body,” Pizzi said. “Jacobs was re-elected so if the Citizens of Pembroke Park had a problem they wouldn’t have re-elected him.”
There is word of lawsuits against the town and Jacobs as well.
Jacobs is elected, and only Gov. Ron DeSantis can remove him. Officials said the report will be sent to DeSantis’ office for review.