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Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony will comply with a judge’s order to obtain and turn over records about the charges he faced as a teenager in Philadelphia and how those cases were resolved, his lawyer said Friday.
Tony has been ordered to allow Broward Circuit Judge William Haury to review the records as part of a lawsuit filed by his former political opponents, H. Wayne Clark and Scott Israel, who allege that Tony is ineligible to serve as sheriff because they claim he has at least one past felony conviction he has hidden from Florida law enforcement background checks.
“We are going to request the information being sought by the judge and, if they exist, we are going to turn them over,” said Michael Moskowitz, Tony’s lawyer.
The stakes for Tony are high. Appointed in January 2019, he won election last November to a full term of his own as sheriff. Florida law does not allow a convicted felon to hold office. If the Clark-Israel lawsuit proves he had a felony conviction in his past, Clark says the judge will be compelled to order Tony’s removal from office and declare Clark the winner of the November election.
“We will file legal pleadings asking for an emergency hearing,” Clark said Friday, speculating about what would happen if his suspicions were confirmed. “Ultimately a court is going to determine what happens with the office of sheriff. And we will honor the decision of the court.”
Moskowitz was less willing to engage in such speculation. “There is zero chance the evidence will show what the plaintiffs claim,” he said. “They have no case. Sheriff Tony has no criminal record. He has never been convicted of any crime, at any time, anywhere.”
In a separate investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into whether Tony committed a crime when he failed to disclose the juvenile murder case while applying for law enforcement positions throughout his career, including when the FDLE asked him under oath about his criminal record after he was appointed sheriff. Tony has maintained that because he was acquitted, he has no criminal record in Pennsylvania.
Tony’s past has been the subject of speculation and legal action for the past year, ever since he confirmed he was charged with murder as a teenager in Philadelphia, where he grew up.
Records show Tony, though under 18, was charged with murder as an adult, but the case was transferred to the state’s juvenile court system. Tony was acquitted, according to a separate police report, and he says he was vindicated because he acted in self defense.