The Sheriff's Criminal Association

If Ken Jenne were like most cops, he'd be investigated for being friends with felons who give him money

The Broward Sheriff's Office used to have a similar rule, says Sgt. Chuck Tate, but it was changed a few years ago to read that a deputy couldn't have a business association with a convicted felon without permission from his or her supervisor.

Had Jenne gone through the academy, he would likely have been taught never to associate with felons on a social level, says Glen Bunting, executive director of the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, which is affiliated with BSO. And that goes double for receiving campaign contributions, Bunting says.

"Those kinds of relationships are always dangerous," Bunting says, "with the temptations, the money, the power. It's easy to receive money and look the other way."

Jenne's dubious associations are as much a reflection of the South Florida culture -- which has long been rife with drug-smuggling, the Mob, and corrupt officials -- as it is of the sheriff himself. And, despite their crimes and questionable associations, both Gaddis and Allsworth are certainly interesting characters who possess qualities that have made them extraordinarily successful. Simply put, they make for good friends, especially to an ambitious politician.

Upon examination, however, it becomes clear that Jenne, when faced with crimes his friends have committed, has shown a definite capacity to look the other way. And, in a way much more like a lawyer than a lawman, he's demonstrated that he's not averse to vouching for them -- even while trained law-enforcement officers are investigating them or prosecutors are doing their best to put them behind bars.

Five years before he became Broward County's sheriff, Ken Jenne stood before federal judge Federico Moreno's bench and talked about his old friend, Emerson Allsworth.

"Your honor, I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Allsworth for nearly 20 years, since I have been practicing law," Jenne began. "When I came into Fort Lauderdale from West Palm Beach, I knew this legendary figure that was known for his honesty and his integrity throughout the community."

Jenne, however, hadn't made the trip to U.S. District Court in Miami on that September day in 1992 for a man who was being honored by his country for integrity. Far from it. The government had convicted Allsworth on charges of helping to launder roughly $12 million in illicit drug money. And Allsworth did it for one of the most storied and notorious criminals in recent South Florida history, Ben Kramer, a convicted drug smuggler and murderer who doubled as a championship powerboat racer.

Now in federal prison, Kramer has three claims to fame: The tremendous amount of Colombian marijuana he smuggled into South Florida; his ordering of the murder of Don Aronow, who invented the Cigarette boat and sold powerboats to Presidents and celebrities; and his daring prison-break attempt that ended in a helicopter crash at the Federal Detention Center in southwest Miami-Dade County.

Kramer and his father, Jack Kramer, relied on astute lawyers and accountants to launder millions in drug money. That's where Allsworth came in, and, like the Kramers, he got caught. Jenne told Judge Moreno at the sentencing that he found Allsworth to be "nothing but honorable," apparently forgetting that, in addition to the crimes connected to Kramer, Allsworth also had been indicted for his role in the 1985 extortion plot. Allsworth, according to prosecutors, served as the middleman in an attempt by Mayor Lomelo and others to extort money from Manor Health Care, Inc., a nursing home company Allsworth was representing.

Allsworth was accused of conspiring with Lomelo and lobbyist Spike Leibowitz to extort money from Manor Health, according to press accounts. He allegedly told company officials that if they hired Leibowitz for $30,000, the City of Sunrise would approve a Manor Health nursing home project. Allsworth became a government witness and testified against Lomelo and Leibowitz, who were both convicted of mail fraud and extortion. Prosecutors also indicted Allsworth on charges of extortion, but a federal judge dismissed the case because Allsworth had apparently been promised immunity in exchange for his testimony. Appeals by the U.S. Attorney's Office to overturn the judge's ruling failed.

The future sheriff had his reasons to defend Allsworth, who was no small fry in South Florida power circles. In addition to spending a decade as a state representative, Allsworth was a member of the 1967 Florida Constitution Revision Commission. After he was voted out of office in 1968, Allsworth went into private practice, where he represented Port Everglades; Waste Management, Inc. (where he worked for Huizenga); and prominent home-builder Gulfstream Land and Development Corp. Allsworth was the insider's insider, and Jenne counted him as an important friend -- no matter what crimes he had committed.

"I recognize what has gone on in this courtroom," Jenne told Moreno, apparently referring to Allsworth's crimes. "I am not aware of the details."

In the Allsworth money-laundering case, federal court documents provide reams of details, some of which Jenne might have found important had he decided to become aware of them.

Though Allsworth would later paint himself as something of an unwitting innocent in the smuggling scheme, he admitted during court proceedings that he helped devise an elaborate, international scheme to hide what he knew at the time was drug money from federal officials.

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