News Sunshine State

Gay Deputy Sues BSO; Lamberti Talks to the Agenda

Written by Cliff Dunn

SOUTHWEST RANCHES— A Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) community service aide has filed suit in federal court, claiming violations of his civil rights. Tony Vincent returned to work on October 31 after being suspended with pay since June 21.

The events leading up to the suit began on February 15 when Vincent, who is gay, was stopped on his motor scooter by BSO deputies in Southwest Ranches. Vincent’s suit claims that the deputies wrongfully ticketed him for speeding, and made an illegal secret recording using a cell phone without his consent during the traffic stop, which is a violation of Florida law. The speeding ticket was dismissed in April.

In June, Vincent was suspended with pay for releasing the tape recording before an internal investigation had been completed. Although he was allowed to return to work, he was given a five-day unpaid suspension. The suit, filed last week, names as defendants Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, BSO Commander Wallace Haywood, and Deputies Roberto Aspuru and Jose Saud.

According to Vincent’s suit, in the recording Haywood expresses how the deputies should proceed with the Internal Affairs paperwork, and advises them that he will reach out to the traffic judge for Vincent’s speeding ticket. Vincent’s suit claims that he was targeted because of his sexual orientation, a claim that Broward Sheriff Lamberti vehemently denies.

“We have a very structured disciplinary procedure,” Lamberti told the Agenda in an exclusive interview. “The decision to discipline in the Vincent case was made by the Professional Standards Committee (PSC), a board comprised of 12 people. Eight of them are BSO employees, and the other four are outside citizens who function as an outside review.”

Lamberti says that the PSC recommended the disciplinary actions against Vincent, and that he abided by their call. “Since I became Sheriff, I have yet to overturn a decision by that committee,” added Lamberti, whose career with BSO began as a detention deputy in 1977, and who was appointed to the office in 2007, after former Sheriff Ken Jenne was indicted on federal corruption charges.

“I place great value in the opinion of that board, since it represents not just the perspective of law enforcement professionals, but also that out a group of outside, objective citizens,” Lamberti told the Agenda.