Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony lied numerous times in order to get his first job as a police officer, then passed a lie-detector test despite saying that his answers were true, according to newly released records.
Coral Springs police made Tony complete a questionnaire and undergo a voice stress test when he applied for a job there in 2005. He answered “no” to several questions that would have revealed that he killed a man in 1993, according to police records released Thursday.
Tony was arrested as a 14-year-old in Philadelphia on charges of shooting another teenager, an incident which he has described as self-defense. The case was transferred to juvenile court, where he was ultimately found not guilty.
However, those records are no longer available, leaving questions as to whether they were purged, sealed or expunged.
During the Coral Springs interview fifteen years ago, Tony stated that he had never been taken into custody or questioned in regard to any matter.
Police records obtained by the South Florida Sun Sentinel show Tony, who is running for sheriff for the first time, concealing the 1993 shooting, even when he is asked specifically about sealed or expunged cases.
Last Thursday, Tony’s campaign responded in a statement: “This week the country has once again been rocked by stories of police brutality — an issue that Sheriff Tony has confronted head-on in Broward County and was ignored by his predecessor Scott Israel.”
It continued: “So it is no surprise that once again opponents are trying to dredge up incidents from his teenage years and from his past. Voters in this election will make a choice between the job Sheriff Tony is doing in the job as sheriff today, as compared to the failed leadership of his predecessor — not on things that happened 15 or 27 years ago.”
His campaign consultant, Eric Johnson, said at the beginning of May that Tony did not disclose the killing on police paperwork since the question asked whether a “criminal” record had been sealed. Johnson repeated that Tony had been found not guilty in the shooting.
Our local leaders have seen firsthand how the Broward Sheriff's Office has improved and is more prepared under Sheriff Tony. With his leadership, BSO is making our community safer and putting Broward County first. https://t.co/mjAOTAuFkr
— Sheriff Gregory Tony 2020 (@sherifftony2020) May 27, 2020
The Sun Sentinel says that when Tony interviewed for the Coral Springs job, he replied no to these questions, in preparation for his lie-detector test:
-Had law enforcement ever been called because of something he was involved in.
-Had he ever caused the death of another person.
-Had he ever been in a fight that involved a weapon.
-Had law enforcement ever questioned him as a suspect in an investigation.
-Had he ever been arrested or charged, even if the charges were dropped, sealed or expunged or he was found not guilty.
-Had he ever used a hallucinogenic drug.
He stated that the most serious thing he had ever done in his life was “fighting.”
Tony allegedly made similar omissions during the 31 questions that were asked in his voice stress test, answering “no” to questions about whether he had used hallucinogens, falsified any information on his application, or had been arrested or detained.
He explained on the questionnaire that he had sprayed graffiti as a teenager on supermarkets, rooftops and abandoned homes. He also admitted to stealing $200 from his parents and siblings, as well as taking $10 worth of paper and pens, driving on a suspended license, and street fighting.
Tony added that creditors were after him, and described himself as “irresponsible” for not paying traffic tickets. He also said he had written bad checks three to four times.
“The examination indicated the candidate was truthful in his responses,” according to the Coral Springs police records. “No deception indicated,” the investigator concluded.
When @bsosherifftony assumed leadership of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, there were hundreds of employment vacancies. This weekend, more than 1,000 people attended BSO’s Open House to express interest in joining #TeamBSO. Apply at https://t.co/oW5xUe2VTI. #jobs #hiringnow pic.twitter.com/1zzSHXmbrV
— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) February 24, 2020
Some police agencies use the voice stress test because it is seen as being less invasive than a polygraph test, which requires that the person be strapped to a device in order to measure their truthfulness, according to Maria Haberfeld, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Tony as sheriff in January of last year, after suspending former Sheriff Scott Israel for what the governor called negligence in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as the 2017 shooting at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Israel is running against Tony to reclaim the job.
Police records show that Tony was rejected for a job with Tallahassee police in 2004, after admitting he used LSD one time.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement recently began an investigation into whether he was untruthful about the Philadelphia shooting in job paperwork.
In addition, the sheriff’s union took a no-confidence vote against Tony in April, adding that he failed to provide deputies with protective gear against the coronavirus.
Tony said in a radio interview last week that he has become the focus of a “smear campaign” and “political slandering.”
“I hate to say this, but for every time there is a minority candidate for any position of power, the first thing they want to do is portray you as having a gun in your hand, or needle in your arm, or some financial problems,” he explained.