There's a New Corruption Fighter in Town

Who needs an inspector general when you have a highly motivated former FBI agent digging into Broward County corruption with all the power of the Sheriff's Office behind him?

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Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti has hired an ex-FBI agent named Al La Manna to investigate local officials.

It's a highly secretive operation, and I've got more reporting to do, but La Manna, an organized-crime expert who spent some three decades with the FBI, has already been working for BSO a couple of months, and word on the street is that he's dedicated to cleaning up the Broward cesspool. There's not a whole lot of public knowledge about La Manna's FBI career, but here's a link to a St. Pete Times story regarding the Seminole tribe that gives him a mention.

One thing this isn't is a public relations ploy. The only reason I learned about the sheriff's new anticorruption efforts is that I've got some strong sources in law enforcement. La Manna refused to comment, and when I asked sheriff's spokesman Jim Leljedal about it this morning, he said

he knew nothing of it. I'll let you know when I hear more details.

Sources have said that La Manna is trying to get cooperation from his former employer, the FBI. I hope that happens. A new day of true cooperation between the feds and locals on issues of public corruption could move this town light-years ahead.

Here's where the controversy lies: Lamberti has been involved in highly publicized budget battles with members of the Broward County Commission (Stacy Ritter comes to mind). Might the sheriff target his political enemies with this new unit? He's a politician himself, after all.

But it's a moot point. Bottom line is that Lamberti was elected by the people to enforce the law -- all laws. If BSO makes a bad corruption case, we will know it. If a good case is tossed aside, we'll find out about that too. Lamberti's corruption wing will just have to stand the test of public scrutiny.

I say welcome to the party. We now have the feds and the state digging deep into investigations of public officials (rumors are flying that a certain county commissioner will be charged soon). Might as well throw the Sheriff's Office into the mix. One thing is certain: There's plenty corruption in Broward County to go around. 

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