Remember those first-class Super Bowl credentials that Sheriff Al Lamberti wrangled for his son from the NFL for last year's game while his agency provided security for the event?Well, the South Florida Times is dogging him about it, and some interesting things are happening as a result.
For one, Lamberti is denying that the credentials for his son constitute a disclosable gift from the NFL, the newspaper reports this morning. BSO is also apparently claiming that it doesn't know where the document pictured at right came from or where it is today.
UPDATED: I spoke with BSO Capt. Robert Schnakenberg who oversaw the Super Bowl detail and is one of the names listed on the "matrix" above.
Schnakenberg said BSO still has the matrix document. He said it has not been destroyed, though he conceded that it had been edited somewhat through the process, with names added and deleted. He said Nick Lamberti's name is still on the document.
Schnakenberg also for the first time explained the sheriff's son's presence at the Super Bowl. He said that the sheriff invited his
son and that the NFL agreed to give him the same pass as the sheriff -- which basically gave him carte blanche around the stadium. Schnakenberg said Nick Lamberti was added to the AFC team security matrix because, again, he needed to have the same all-access pass as his dad and he said that not only did the NFL know about the sheriff's son's attendance but so did federal authorities including the FBI.
This explanation to me emphasizes the fact that the all-access pass was basically a gift from the NFL to the Lamberti family. But Schnakenberg says it's a matter of interpretation and that he, along with the sheriff presumably, determined that the Super Bowl pass had no value.
"There is no value to that credential," Schnakenberg said. "[Nick Lamberti] was being invited to attend the game and the NFL made him a pass. The public couldn't purchase that credential so it's actually zero value."
On that point we disagreed. I believe the pass did have value, well over $1,000, and that Lamberti's should have disclosed it as a gift from the NFL on state ethics forms and that he still should disclose it as a gift.
And that to me is the sheriff's problem here. He clearly used the power of his office to get his 16-year-old son a much-coveted all-access credentials to the game. To receive the gift Lamberti had to put his son on the VIP protection team, even giving him a bogus employee number (BSO-0000).
That is why it's pretty clear that Lamberti should have disclosed the credentials as a gift worth well in the four figures and, having failed to do that, should now amend his public disclosure forms to reflect that fact.
But he's digging in his heels. "Over 300 people from BSO got credentials, and hundreds more from other agencies got credentials, and I'm sure no one thought they were getting a gift," sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal told the Times.
Let's break this down. Number one, I would assume that every other BSO person who received credentials for the Super Bowl were deputies who were actually working. For instance, I know that a lot of jail employees were paid overtime to help man the event, and they sure as hell weren't hanging out with Peyton Manning.
Secondly, Nick Lamberti wasn't working; he's not a deputy and doesn't have the training to do security. He was there to hang out with the Indianapolis Colts and soak up a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not protect football players.
Bottom line: The sheriff should just 'fess up to the gift, report it, and take his lumps if there are any, from the Florida Ethics Commission.