Broward News

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Didn't Know Ousting Lamberti Brass Would Cost Millions

When incoming Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel wanted to bring in his own people to help run the department, he didn't realize that removing some of former Sheriff Al Lamberti's top lieutenants would cost nearly $4.3 million, including a more than $340,000 payout to one colonel who had never called in sick during 36 years on the job.

Now Israel is lambasting the former sheriff for writing checks "at the taxpayers' expense," according to the Sun-Sentinel. Lamberti told the Miami Herald that Israel's transition team was made aware that BSo would be responsible for such payouts -- for unused, accrued sick and vacation time. Israel said he was never made personally aware of the issue.

"They understood, and were OK with it," Lamberti said.

Among the payouts were $340,653 to Col. Timothy Gillette, $176,471 to Major Larry Rogers, $173,956 to Col. James Winberly, $148,135 to Capt. Milton Wiener, and $143,005 to Lt. Col. Richard Reilly.

The agency spokesman, Lt. Jim Leljedal, received $120,482 and Art Santucci, who Lamberti brought in to run external affairs after being elected in 2008, left with more than $50,000.

Read more: - Broward Sheriff Candidate Scott Israel: "I Have a Pristine Record" - Scott Israel Defeats Al Lamberti for Broward Sheriff

The way employees accrue sick and vacation days has changed over time. Today employees' accrued vacation time is capped at 320 hours. They receive 12 sick days a year with no cap on accumulation. Gillette, who received the $340,000 payout, began working before new rules on accrued were put in place, effectively grandfathering him in. During his career he gathered 3,378.53 hours of sick time and 963.19 hours of vacation.

At one point, the office paid out 100 percent of all accrued time, but former Sheriff Ken Jenne -- who held the job before Lamberti and went to jail on corruption charges in 2007 -- changed the rules allowing sheriffs to pay less than the full amount.

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Zachary Fagenson is the restaurant critic for Miami New Times, and proud to report a cholesterol level of 172.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson